The Blog

The Soul Year: Confronting Expectations, Redefining Success, and Laughing in Failure’s Face

Hello everyone! It’s been a hot minute.

I’m intentionally taking a step back from my blog right now, to refocus my life on what’s truly important and what I want this space to look like moving forward.

That being said, I’ve been talking to other young twenty-somethings from around the world over the past few months, and I’ve made some maybe-conclusions (???) about a few things.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m taking a break from college right now, for at least a year. Before I made this decision, I spoke with professors, classmates, friends, family members, and other mentors for guidance. Many cautioned against taking a year (or more) off, warning that I wouldn’t return. That I wouldn’t “reach my potential”. That I wouldn’t be happy.

Ultimately, however, the decision was mine alone, and I knew it was necessary.

Calling this a “gap year” doesn’t really seem right, so I’m opting to call it a soul year. A year (or more) where I can truly listen to my heart, without feeling like everything I do should be resume-worthy, grad-school-application-worthy, or interview-worthy.  Instead, I just want my life to feel worthy. 

Finding a new home can be difficult. It doesn't have to be.

There are so many expectations placed upon us at such a young age. Our lives are essentially laid out for us from birth: SchoolCollegeJobMarriageKidsDeath. With some other stuff in there, maybe.

Instead, I just want my life to feel worthy. 

I thought about taking a year off before I began college. I thought about it again after my freshman year. After my sophomore year of college, I knew I had to just take the leap and do it.

I was drained.



Wrestling with feelings of unworthiness, sadness, and failure.

As someone who always performed well academically, I was incredibly weighed down by expectations of greatness. I placed expectations on myself that were influenced by society and adults I admired, both of which spoke goodness and failure into my life.

I wrestled with questions like Does an accomplishment matter if it isn’t grand enough for my resume? If I can’t write a twenty-page research paper about it with twelve APA sources and six points to prove my argument? and The major I’ve chosen won’t result in a high paycheck…. is there still a point in majoring in it if it’s not impressive? It got to a point where I was constantly comparing my accomplishments to others’. I was deeply unhappy at school, and I felt as though I could never do enough.

I was deeply unhappy at school, and I felt as though I could never do enough.

On the flip side, if I took some time off, it’s statistically unlikely that I would return to school. This meant that I was signing up for a lower salary, less scholarship money when I did return, graduating later than my peers, and being labeled as a “college dropout”.

Both sides seemed dreadfully undesirable.

Eventually, I knew I had to make a decision. I chose by mentally placing myself in both arenas. The first: remaining a full-time social work student, overwhelmed by comparison and questions. The second: working full-time, traveling, and making intentional time for the pursuit of new hobbies and self-development.

The choice became clear.

I am choosing to make this year about personal development. I want to stare the questions, the comparisons, the doubts that constantly plague my mind right in the face. I want to develop new hobbies and invest time in the things I already know I love. I want to learn to let go of both material and emotional baggage. I want to be comfortable in the uncomfortable.

I want to be comfortable in the uncomfortable.

Then came a bigger question: how will I define personal success, if not through academic accomplishments?

My entire life has been categorized and defined by awards, scholarships, roles in theatre, titles in after-school clubs, and report cards. How would I feel successful without such a definitive measurement of it?

I’m still figuring out the answer to this question.

Here’s what I have learned so far, though, and a bit of advice for those who also feel stuck.

We all have expectations, both internal and external.

It’s not wrong to have expectations. I think they’re a good thing, actually. Another word for this is goals, which we all know I’m a huge fan of (hehehe). Before I went to India in August, I made a list of goals for this fall that I wanted to work toward. I refined the list when I returned, and added a list of hobbies I wanted to pursue, some personal development questions I wanted to answer, and a sort of bucket list for these few months.

The key is to recognize when expectations become unhealthy. I expected myself to graduate with a degree in International Studies from the University of Denver in the spring of 2019, and y’all, that is not what happened (PTL, amiright?). When I transferred and was still unhappy, I realized that perhaps it was not solely the school environment that I was uncomfortable with. So, I adjusted my personal expectations, and I’m ignoring societal expectations, for now.

Be gentle with yourself.

I was brokenhearted when I realized by big dream of living in Denver was not going to be realized. I was confused when I transferred and still hated school. I was in love when I traveled, and that’s all I knew. I’ve fallen in love with many more things over the past few months, and I’m still falling.

I think the most jarring thing about this whole process was realizing that the plan I’d made for myself a little over two years ago was so, completely, wholly wrong. And it’s taken me a long, long, long time to come to terms with this. At first, I bullied myself into staying in school, because I felt as though I wouldn’t be successful without a degree. After a while, I learned that having a mean spirit won’t get you anywhere either. Recognize when you are pushing yourself too hard.

Follow your heart.

Fam, I’m not trying to be cliche. At all. But had I stuck with my original plan, I would be dreadfully unhappy.

So, instead, I listened to my heart. I spoke to my soul. I responded to the whispers from the universe. I now work in the customer service industry, which I love. I get to meet new people and have interesting conversations and talk all day at work and honestly, the energy from other people fuels my happiness more than the energy from textbooks.

I am endlessly thankful for the opportunities I am provided every day to improve myself, even if I am uncomfortable and stretched and awkward in the process. There isn’t really a way to do this thing smoothly, is there? (If you know how, hmu pls.)

And finally, the biggest thing I’ve learned: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Literally, everyone is comparing their accomplishments to everyone else’s. There are SO. MANY. PEOPLE. who are unhappily running through life at a million-mile-an-hour pace because that’s how we operate here in America.



Find joy in small moments.

We’re all having this crazy experience of life together, and we need to support each other. Know that there are other paths and opportunities for you, if you allow them to come into your life. Hear this: You will never be alone in any of this. Your heart will not lead you astray–let’s listen in together.

AUGUST. and the end of summer. and stuff.

IT’S AUGUST. Meaning it’s almost autumn. MY FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR.

My summer ends this week, because when I return from India, it will almost be September! So, I figured I’d do my annual “monster end of summer post” now.

I spent a lot of time in the water. Like, more than any other summer.

At the beginning of the summer, I got to see the Minimalists speak, which was incredible! I loved seeing two of the men who changed my life in person. They recorded a live podcast in Minneapolis at the Cedar Cultural Center. They also hosted a third guest, a practicing minimalist who lives in Minneapolis.


Pride weekend was a BLAST! I went with some friends and ate good food and took lots of photos.

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two katies, amanda and haley!
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lovely marisa!

Finally, here are some miscellaneous photos from my adventures this summer.

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went to somerset, wisconsin before zack and his girlfriend, emily, moved to florida
at the uptown food truck festival with lauren
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played with fire at the end of pilot knob road in mendota heights, minnesota with lauren and andrew
eating a bourbon-chocolate-brownie donut at the northeast location of glam doll
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lauren and i spent a lot of time at sunset pond this summer
the blackbear concert at the myth
my mom and i with minnesota senator amy klobuchar at the stop the trafficking 5k in eden prairie, minnesota. we were featured on her facebook page!
photo with a kangaroo at adults night out at the minnesota zoo

I will be writing while I am in India, so continue to check back! I hope y’all are having an amazing summer. Let’s speak life into this coming autumn!

India (finally).


Well, I leave for Chicago one week from today. Then I leave for India from Chicago a week from Saturday. So, let me correct myself:



I feel like everyone is asking me Are you excited for India?? right now, so let me answer this (and some other FAQs) for y’all in this post.


The second most common question I’m asked is How are you going? For those who don’t know, I am travelling to India with a volunteer organization based in New Zealand called International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ). IVHQ is an amazing organization that offers volunteer programs in a LOT of countries, from one week to over a year long. I’m doing a teaching program in New Delhi for three weeks!

What will I be doing? While I’m there, I’m going to be staying in a homestay (aka with an Indian family) in New Dehli, with 1-5 other volunteers. I’ll be teaching in a slum school, and I’m not sure what I’ll be teaching until I get there. On the weekends, I’m going to do a little travelling inside of India: I am going to visit the Taj Mahal, Varanasi, and whatever my fellow volunteers are doing!

How much did it cost? Surprisingly, it was not that expensive. Like at all. I’m paying $400 for three weeks, which covers most of my trip. I’m bringing $200 for souvenirs/water/food/etc, but I’ll also have access to my Visa and Discover cards. I paid for my visa into India ($75), a new passport because I lost mine moving ($160), skirts/shirts (maybe $30 total? They’re all from thrift stores!), and I bought a travel sleeping bag that I consider to be a future investment ($59 from REI). Finally, I had a flight voucher for $975 from United because I was supposed to go to Nicaragua in March 2016 but I got whooping cough so I had to cancel the trip (and then I had to move this India trip from last December because I had mono….. pray for health, please!!), so my flight was about $400 ($1400 without the voucher).

What am I packing? won’t be checking a bag, for a couple reasons. One: because I don’t have that much to bring, and two: it’s expensive and I don’t want to have to worry about it. I’m not tryna impress anyone in India, so I’m hardly bringing any makeup or hair product. I’m packing my Chacos and hiking shoes, my sleeping bag, my clothing, some small toiletries, and a camping backpack with activities for the plane. I’m using an app to read books on my phone, so I’ll save space there. I’ll be doing a post on how I pack light!

I’m considering this to be the ultimate minimalist challenge, lol. Can I pack for three weeks in a carry-on and a backpack? 😉

Did I have to get any vaccines? I am already protected against typhoid, Hep A/B, and I have all my required vaccines. I will be taking malaria pills while in India, and I purchased a mosquito spray from REI that keeps mosquitos away from your clothing for six washes. I did, however, opt to get rabies shots. Only about 19,000 people get this set of vaccines per year, but I chose to get it because the protection lasts over ten years, and I know this will not be my last trip (considering it’s not my first) to a developing country. India is full of unvaccinated dogs, and you just can’t be too careful! The rabies shot doesn’t completely protect you against rabies, but it gives you a few days to get to a hospital for treatment (as opposed to 24 hours), and you don’t need a hemoglobin transfusion.

Other than rabies (of which I need three shots on three separate days), I’m completely vaccinated!

Will I have Wi-Fi? Will you be blogging? Posting photos/videos? Updates? YES, I will have access to Wi-Fi while I’m there. My homestay has it, and there are Internet cafes all around! I have no idea how reliable it is, though. I will be bringing my camera and computer, so *hopefully* I’ll be able to upload some photos while I’m away! I’m going to do my very, very best to keep in touch, because I want everyone at home to see what I’m up to, and to thank those of you who’ve supported me in whatever way! I also want to ensure I’m soaking up as much of this trip as possible, though, so I won’t be on my phone all the time 😉

Where can you read more in-depth about what I’m doing in India? This is the link to my Fund and Seek page, a fundraising page I’ve arranged for those of you who’d like to either support me financially or otherwise.

How else can you support me, if not financially? I LOVE this question!!! Y’all, there are so many ways. The number one way is to be praying/vibing/saying affirmations/etc for me. Tbh, I’m terrified of flying, so that’s honestly the biggest thing I’m scared for on this adventure, lol. Give me your tips and tricks for surviving an overnight, solo, 14-hour, over-deep-bodies-of-water fights, PLEASE!

In addition, I’d love to stay in good health while I’m traveling. Please be thinking of me while I’m away!

Thirdly, learn about India! It’s an incredible country rich in culture, religion, and history. Come on this journey with me! I’d love to talk to you about it, now or when I return.

If you have any other questions for me, I’d love to talk with you! Write a comment below, or connect with my on any of my social media outlets (linked over on the right side of your computer!). I could not be more excited to start travelling–what’s truly at the center of my heart.

Wait to Date: Why the “Date-to-Marry” Mentality Can Be Toxic

For all of high school, I subscribed to the belief that dating without the intention of marriage is pointless. Why would you waste your time with a significant other if you couldn’t see yourself marrying them? Why invest time, money, emotions, resources, etc. if you didn’t picture a future with them?

This largely stemmed from my religious practices in high school. I was (and still am) Christian, and I read a lot of books by Christian women who advised dating only when ready for marriage, whenever that may be. I followed Christian influencers on social media who had similar ideas. I knew all the sayings and quotes about saving yourself (sexually or otherwise) for the right guy. I had conversation upon conversation with my Christian female friends about “protecting your heart” and “praying for guidance” when it comes to dating and marriage.

Essentially, I was the girl waving the flag shouting, “ALL RELATIONSHIPS END IN BREAKUP OR MARRIAGE!!!!” 

Which, at its core, is true. Romantic relationships will, inevitably, end in a breakup or a marriage (unless you take a break or don’t believe in marriage or a thousand other scenarios, but I’m talking conventional here). I do still sometimes give this advice to younger girls who ask me for it.

I also know I am not the only girl (or guy) who has adopted this approach to dating. The Internet is full of hercampus and the Odyssey articles about this topic. There are checklists titled things like “differences between the girl you date and the woman you marry”. There are formulas for “dating the right way” and how-tos for “dating to marry”. There are thinkpieces on when it’s appropriate to let your children date, because you want them to be marriage-ready when they first step off your stoop and into a car with someone else.

Newsflash: there is no one formula that will get you the perfect relationship. There is not a checklist, an equation, a perfect approach.

I have come to realize that there are some very toxic mentalities that accompany this “date to marry” mindset, and I am here to lay some of those out today. And as always, all opinions and experiences expressed are mine… if you had a different experience than I did, that’s awesome! I’d love to hear about it. These are my thoughts on this, and we can differ. What a privilege to be human and different, amiright?!

Why the -Date-To-Marry- Mentality can be Toxic

I didn’t date until the very end of my senior year, and it was a short relationship that ended before I moved to Colorado (while he’d be staying in Minnesota). My second relationship started soon after, the autumn right after I moved to Colorado. Although it was also relatively short, it was brimming with passion and probably-too-soon “I-love-yous” and planning for the future together, like, two months in. In fact, all of my relationships have followed this path: falling for each other incredibly quickly, saying “I love you” in a matter of weeks, planning for the future waaaaaayyyy too soon, etc. Then when we would break up (after only a few months), it was heartbreaking. Soul-crushing. Absolutely, downright horrible.

For a long time, I wondered what I was doing wrong.

I was invested. I was loving. I tried to spend time with them, to plan, to pray, to align my dreams with theirs. Wasn’t I doing everything right?

I started to notice something. I see a cute guy and RIGHT AWAY I am already picturing our wedding, our five kids, the photos of our world travels adorning the walls of our kitchen. And I’m sure some of that is just personality: I’m a dreamer, a planner, and a wedding lover. I can’t help it! But one day, after relationship after relationship was failing, I realized something:

The “date-to-marry” mentality puts too high of expectations on imperfect people in a new relationship.

You’re both figuring the other person out. You’re both stumbling through life. So you found someone similar enough to spend this time in your life with–that’s fantastic! Now spend this time with them, and let the future come when it does.

Spend this time with them, and let the future come when it does.

For the control freaks in the room (aka me!!), that’s fucking scary. You want to control the future ASAP. You want to lock them in (lol), get that commitment, hear that “I love you”. You don’t have time for games, you want need this one to be The One.

Below, I’ve listed some bullet points that include advice, reminders, suggestions, and tips for dating without this expectation of marriage. And of course, there is a time and place to talk about the future, especially as your relationship grows lengthier and you start to blend your lives more and more. But don’t let that become the main theme. Don’t begin talking about marriage two months in. Don’t get caught up in expectations.

Things to Consider, Advice, Mistakes and Lessons… etc.

1. Dating more than one person allows you the space to figure out what you want — and what you don’t — in a significant other.

If you date one person and end up marrying them, that’s so amazing and I am so so so happy for you! You’re pretty much living my high school dream life, lol.

BUT for the rest of us whose first relationships didn’t work out…. that’s okay. I learned lot from my past relationships. I learned so much about myself, and what I need to work on. I learned about what kind of expectations are realistic… and what isn’t. And best of all, I got to know another person. Isn’t that the entire point of life? To form relationships and make memories and enrich your life the best you can?

2. Learn to let go of some control.

This is always so hard for me to hear, but it’s so so so necessary:

Having too much control is never a good thing.

Allow the relationship to run its course… whether it’s awesome or shitty, or maybe (probably) both. Just enjoy it! Don’t worry about whether or not (s)he’s The One. If he/she has a habit that annoys you, don’t sit up nights journaling about whether or not that’s a dealbreaker or will fuck up your kids in the future or whatnot. Honestly, just let the relationship happen. Enjoy getting to know the other person! You are into someone else and someone else is into you! Isn’t that just amazing in and of itself?!

My advice for this? Don’t blend your lives too quickly. Y’all don’t need to be into all the same things, do everything together, or even have the same core values (unless that’s hella important to you… which then by all means, stick to your guns!!!). I actually had a guy once mention my love for poetry slams while we were breaking up. Like?????? That’s why I have poet friends?????

Let the relationship happen. Don’t force the future. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Rest in that.

3. Don’t!!! Save!!! All!!! Your!!! Firsts!!! For!!! One!!! Person!!!

What is a “first”?

This could be anything, but I know HELLA people do this.

A “first” could be physical/sexual, experiential (visiting places, etc), relational (saying “I love you”, etc), or anything else you consider to be significant.

Banking all your relationship “firsts” on one person is not only stressful for both parties involved, but it’s a hotbed for shame, regret, and heartache if 1) the experience doesn’t live up to what you’ve built it up to be in your head and 2) you break up. Here’s the truth of life: some relationships just don’t work out. If you saved everything for one person and you break up, how will you feel? I know I felt used. Angry. Broken. Like I’d wasted everything I’d always considered important on the “wrong person”. Honestly, I felt dumb.

In addition, if you saved firsts for someone with the expectation that someone else would be waiting for you too, you honestly never know that you’ll find that. Ask yourself honestly: if you knew you’d be saving your firsts for someone who wasn’t, would you be saving them? This could honestly be anything from sex to roadtripping. Decide what you’re waiting to experience because it’s important for you, versus you want someone else to have that first with you too. Because truthfully, that may never happen. Will you be disappointed if you saved your firsts and they didn’t?

4. There’s nothing wrong with expectations… but check yourself.

The “date-to-marry” mentality, at least for me, has always bred SERIOUS expectations. This is in both myself and the other person.

In the other person, you might subconsciously expect that they’re instantly going to be this incredible person that’s just made of spouse material. They will put you first. Love you unconditionally. Incredibly. You will be their first priority behind God.

In yourself, you expect that your firsts will be with them (see no. 3). You expect that you’ll have this amazing, movie-like connection. You’ll prioritize them, love them endlessly, become instant spouse-material (as if you weren’t already!!!).

As Joshua Fields Millburn from the Minimalists said in a podcast I heard yesterday:

Lower your expectations, but raise your standards.

There is nothing wrong with expecting certain things from your significant other. This might be amount of time spent together, the way they treat you alone or in front of others, how much you have in common, the amount of money they spend on you, literally anything.

But you have to recognize that they (and you!!!) will mess up. No one is perfect. And if you live your life with this “date-to-marry” mentality, when they inevitably mess up, you’ll be left gasping for air, wondering if this is really right. If they’re really The One. You’ll be crushed, because your expectations were too high. If you’re thinking about marriage from square one, is there really isn’t room for mistakes? Is there really room to wonder if the other person isn’t right?

5. And finally, know this: being in love more than once is okay.

It’s possible.

You aren’t used up.

You are not a slut.

Love isn’t constricted to one person. I remember once Googling “is it possible to love more than one person in a lifetime” when the first guy I loved had been in love with someone else before and I was terrified that he wouldn’t be able to fully love me.


I laugh looking back at that. But honestly, it’s a true fear I had. Ladies (and gentlemen and any other people of other genders), hear this: it’s okay to be in love more than once. In fact, it’s pretty fucking common. It’s normal as hell. You’re amazing and worthy of love from more than one person.

All in all, I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences with dating to marry. That mindset has NOT worked for me, and I wanted to caution others away from this mentality. But again, these are my opinions, thoughts, and experiences. If you had other experiences, that is so awesome. I’m so glad for you, honestly! But for those of you who have had relationships fall apart, I wrote this for you. If you’ve ever felt like you wasted your love, I wrote this for you. If you ever had your expectations come back and hit you hard in the face, I wrote this for you.

I’ve been there, and it’s not fun. It’s pretty fucking shitty. But know that you will find happiness. You will find happiness. You will find happiness.

You’re fucking gold. Hear that today.

How to Adjust to Moving Back Home + Other Unexpected College Failures

How do you come to terms with the fact that what you’d been working for your whole life doesn’t live up to expectations? That you aren’t thriving, like everyone else seems to be? That the person you are becoming isn’t who you wanted to be?

This is one of those posts I’ve had in the making for a looooong time. It’s been sitting in my “for later” folder, and every time I start a new post I am taunted by this one, smirking at me from my drafts. I’m gonna get really raw and real in this post, so bear with me as i try to navigate my thoughts about moving back home, as well as some other unexpected failures I’ve experienced over the past two years.

How to Adjust to moving back home

I started college searching sophomore year of high school. I think really started to feel the pressure when one of my teachers told my parents that I would probably end up attending an Ivy League school, and seeing the beams on my parents’ faces was so rewarding, after years of working my butt off.

Flash back to a little over two years ago. I was in the thick of college tours, admissions emails, and college letter after college letter in the mail, universities’ mass mailings basically falling out of the mailbox, it was so stuffed. I never threw away one letter a college sent me, and I would periodically sort through them. I opened every single one. I took “find your major” quizzes online and I used the Naviance college finder. I went on seventeen college tours over two different states, and I met with countless admissions officers and department heads and current students.

To say the least, I was obsessed with finding the exact. right. college. 

Here’s what I didn’t know: I had no (???) idea what I wanted out of a college. Like at all. All I knew was that I wanted to choose one and graduate from the same school I’d entered into four years previous.

First, I wanted a huuuuge out of state school. I looked at schools in California and Colorado, and I looked at Texas Christian University, one of the largest schools in the nation.

Then, I wanted a tiny Christian school where I could major in Worship Leading. I toured four of said “tiny Christian” schools, and I changed my plan. Lol.

I landed on a medium-sized, private university in suburban Denver, Colorado. For my Minnesota peeps, think very St. Thomas-esque. Not exactly Ivy League, but it was an adventure, something different than what I thought my classmates were planning. I really felt as though God confirmed my decision again and again, and I was confident in my commitment to this university. I selected a major in International Studies with a concentration in International Development and a minor in Music with a concentration in Vocal Performance (say that five times fast, lol).

I was so pumped to be moving almost 1000 miles away from home. I was so excited for this new adventure, and it really felt like I was beginning a new chapter in my life.

My first quarter at this university was incredible. It was everything I had hoped and dreamed for. I could not have asked for a better ten weeks: I had amazing friends, a gorgeous boyfriend, and I was academically challenged.

The next two quarters? Not so much. (You can read about my experiences here. I could definitely go more in depth, but this is an overview of my life in April 2016.)

I dropped out of my dream school. I regressed enormously mentally and emotionally. I had no idea what to do.

I wanted to transfer, but I always said I wanted to go to one school and just thrive there. I wanted a solid group of friends, which I didn’t really have. I wanted to be confident in my major, and I hated my classes. I went through the worst few months of my life, and I honestly don’t know how I survived (literally). Everything I’d ever wanted and dreamed about was falling apart before my eyes, and I was unable to stop it. I felt completely powerless. Discouraged does not even begin to describe what I was feeling.

Discouraged does not even begin to describe what I was feeling.

So, I turned to alcohol. I turned to self harm. I turned to sleeping, crying, and daydreaming about just buying a plane ticket and reinventing myself.

I think the biggest disappointment was the failed expectations I’d had of myself for eighteen years, let alone the perceived expectations I thought my family, friends, and educators had of me. College was NOT what I’d thought it would be, and I didn’t know how to come to terms with that.

How do you come to terms with the fact that what you’d been working for your whole life doesn’t live up to expectations? That you aren’t thriving, like everyone else seems to be? That the person you are becoming isn’t who you wanted to be?

I’ve been wrestling with these questions for over a year, and I still don’t have the answers. But I’ve learned a lot, and that’s what I’m here to share.

As I mentioned above, I switched what I wanted in a college a number of times. I was eighteen, I had no idea what I wanted from life, and I was scared to shit. I knew I wanted to take cute instas and meet cute boys (the only two important things in life, amiright?) I didn’t know what extracurriculars I was interested in. I didn’t know what I wanted from a degree…. To be honest, I didn’t even know that I really cared to get a degree.

Everything I did, I did because I thought I was supposed to do it. I rushed Greek life and hated the thought of it (and the price tag, tbh). I selected a major that I thought would be interesting and make me a lot of money. I tried to look ultra-cool on social media.

Nothing I was doing was in line with what I truly wanted, deep down in my core.

This past January, I subbed as a leader for a 7th and 8th grade girls’ church retreat in Alexandria, MN. The speaker said something Saturday night I’ll never forget.

What if God called you to work at a Starbucks in Roseville full-time? Would you listen?

Would I? Would I listen if the calling on my life wasn’t to be this amazing, brave, incredible world traveler who everyone else seems to be jealous of?

That was what I wanted (and still kind of want) for my life. I wanted to be cool, to have adventure after adventure, to have an amazing group of friends, to have all the greatest immaterial things life has to offer.

And it’s been a hard reality check to realize that even if these things are coming for me, they aren’t here right now.

Because now, I am a student at a small, all-female college 30 minutes from my hometown.

To me, that doesn’t sound like an adventure. That sounds incredibly boring. Like everything I’ve ever worked for didn’t matter in the end. 

It feels like a letdown. Like I’ve fallen incredibly short of the expectations I had for myself. Like the person I always envisioned myself to be was left in my first quarter at the University of Denver. It feels like the big adventure that was supposed to be the Start to all the Other Adventures didn’t live up to expectations… so does that mean all the plans I have for the rest of my life will be like this, too?

Looking back, however, I have learned more about myself than I ever would have imagined. I completed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, a form of PTSD therapy. I found an interest in Buddhist and Hindu art. I fell in love with slam poetry. I strengthened my passion for a Capella music. I deepened my love for students, and discovered a special place in my heart for middle school students.

These are all things I would not have discovered about myself, had I not tried and failed at another university. And this just begs the question: what else will I discover about myself?

Moving back home has been the biggest, weirdest part of this whole adventure. Sometimes, I’ll be driving in an unfamiliar part of the Twin Cities, and suddenly feel like I’m back in Denver. I start to panic because I’m confused and would dread to live there again, but then I just have to gently remind myself that I am home, safe, and loved.

I’ve been walking through a long and confusing healing process. I’m mourning the person I wanted to be, and the person I didn’t get to be. I’m mourning the place I once loved. I’m mourning the confusing heartache. I’m feeling this. I’m allowing the healing to come through.

And this is the most important part: recognizing that it is hard. This is hard stuff. Don’t lighten the feeling. It’s a kind of death, realizing that the person and place you wanted to be aren’t in line with reality.

Remember that this is a part of growing up. Our expectations and our reality won’t always match….but that’s where you need to have grace with yourself. It might take time, and that’s okay. It might take a loooooot longer than you expected, but you’ll get there.

These years are incredibly weird and formative and require a lot of soul-searching.

As for me? I’m trying to remember that just because the crazy plan I had two years ago didn’t work out, doesn’t mean all the rest of my plans won’t work out. I’d still love to go to all seven continents, get married, join the Peace Corps, and adopt a kid or two. I would absolutely love to live all over the world. I still plan on backpacking around Europe.

If it takes me a little longer to get there, that’s okay. And I’m learning to be okay with that.

Septum Piercing 101: All Your Questions Answered

A year ago, I got two cartilage piercings in my right ear. I truly thought that at that point, I was done with piercings. I mean, I had nine at that point! What else would I pierce?!

But, as anyone who is into body modification will tell you, they are addictive. as. hell. 

I started wearing a nose hoop as a fake septum, just to get the feel of what it might look like if I were to get it pierced. I got some good reviews, but it tickled to wear and I wasn’t very consistent, so it was obvious it was fake (lol).

I tend to be a liiiiiiiittle impulsive. So one Tuesday morning, I called my friend Marisa, and we went to get my septum pierced two hours later.

The wait was two hours long, but I suppose that’s the price you pay for a new body modification (and $45 plus tip). Luckily, the tattoo shop we were in was really interesting, covered in vines and little Buddhas. There was also a koi fish pond inside, too. Rap music was blaring from an artist’s chair down the hall, and tattoo drawings plastered the walls.

Finally, the guy brought me back into the ~piercing room~. Now, as I previously wrote, this was my tenth piercing. I’m not like, a piercing newbie or anything. But in my eyes, this was my first #edgy piercing (I don’t really consider my nostril piercing to be edgy, considering everyone and their mother has it pierced). He marked my nose, then slid a needle through. It felt really special, lol. Are your eyes watering yet?

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After he slid the needle through, I sat there for a few seconds as he prepared the piercing I’d preselected.

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I knew enough not to wear makeup, because piercing the nose makes the eyes water. And boy, were my eyes watering. It literally looked like I was sobbing.

He slid the jewelry through the new piercing, and that was that! I paid and left with a new piercing.

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I got it pierced with a small, silver hoop that was flush with my skin.

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Let me address some questions I was asked frequently after getting my septum done.

Did it hurt?

Yes? I mean, relatively, yes. Of course sliding a needle through any skin on your body is going to hurt. But what I didn’t know about the septum piercing was that they don’t pierce the cartilage of your nose–they pierce the skin between the cartilage on the front of your nose, and the harder cartilage that supports the inside of your nose. So it didn’t hurt nearly as bad at my ear cartilage piercings or my nostril. I would say it hurt a little more than my six earlobe piercings, but that’s just because it was on my face and a little stranger of a feeling.

How long was the healing period?

I changed my piercing after four weeks. I went back to the place I got it pierced to purchase new jewelry and had a pro do it for me. The actual healing period is about six weeks, I believe. It stopped hurting after about a week or so.

How did you clean it?

In the past, I’ve had to use salt water soaks three times a day for weeks or months. This time, the piercer just told me to get a Q-tip wet with warm salt water and just rub it on the piercing, and then wash off the salt water mix. So basically what I’d do is wet a Q-tip, dip it in the salt (NOT!!! Table salt!!!), and then get the Q-tip wet again. I’d clean the blood or whatever off the piercing, then I’d cup some warm water in my hands, and dip my nose in the water. Then I’d just dry off my nose.

What size is your piercing?

16g. I got it pierced with a size closer to 18g (which is smaller than 16g), so when I went back in to change the piercing, the guy just had to gauge the piercing a little. That essentially means he had to slide a slightly bigger needle through my piercing, in order to make it the proper size.

Will you ever be able to have a job with that piercing?

I know that a lot of people ask this question out of actual curiosity. When people ask this condescendingly, it’s actually really offensive and rude, FYI. I am currently an employee at six places (yes, you read that right. I’m not active at all six places, though.), and only two of those six places ban face jewelry. In this case, I have two options: flip up the jewelry if I’m wearing a curved barbell, or just take it out. It won’t close in an eight-hour shift.

To this question, I also respond with if a workplace doesn’t appreciate how I choose to express myself, do I really want to work there? You tell me. My ability to be professional with clients and perform well in the workplace is literally 0% affected by a piercing in my nose.

Finally, as more and more millennials become the bosses, I think that this weird avoidance society has regarding visible piercings and tattoos will go away. Think about how rebellious it used to be to pierce your nostril…and now literally everyone has that piercing. So.

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Peep the gold clicker!!

SO there ya have it–my septum experience, from beginning to end! I’ve changed my piercing a couple times, and I’m not 100% sure yet that I’ve found the jewelry for me.

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Gold curved barbell

What do you guys think about body modifications? What about body mods in the workplace? Drop a comment below!

Why I Stopped Wearing a Bra

Okay, y’all. It’s time to get #real. I’ve started and reworked this post approximately five million times over the past three months, but it’s time to get down to business: in October, I stopped wearing a bra every day. Here’s why.


Maybe you’ve seen the headlines–every news source seems to have covered this popular new trend, from the Huffington Post to Bustle to USA Today. Or maybe you’ve heard of the hashtag #FreeTheNipple. Women are going braless in droves, and maybe you’ve wondered why. Why would women forgo arguably one of the most important pieces of clothing? Granted, there are a number of downsides, from needing to hold my boobs when I go up or down stairs to aching nips from direct exposure to whatever fabric my shirt is made from. But in my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons. In this post, I’m getting into the nitty gritty: what’s it really like? Is it right for you? Why is it important?

1. The Why

Last year, I grew two bra sizes. I went to Victoria’s Secret on a whim and got measured, just for the heck of it, and I grew two sizes! I’d been wearing the same size bra since, like, eighth grade, so this news was SO. EXCITING. The sales lady celebrated with me (I’m sure she was just salivating over the commission she was going to make) as I brought like ten bras into the fitting room in celebration. I ended up purchasing only one, but it was $78. Seventy-eight dollars! Almost eight hours of work at any one of my various jobs. And this was no ordinary bra–it was one of those ultra-sexy bombshell beautiful babe bras. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

I definitely got my $78 worth, because I wore it all the time. I went like three months without taking it off. I felt gorgeous, and I wore low-cut tops to show off my brand-new set of boobs. When I went out with friends, I made sure to wear clothes that showcased my new favorite accessory. I let my boobs go to my head, if that’s even a thing. Sometimes I even contoured my cleavage just for the fun of it. I bought a second bra a few months later, spending the same amount of money on just another item of clothing I already owned. What???

They were kind of comfortable, I guess (keywords: I guess). Not $78 comfortable, but they were, nonetheless.

When it was laundry day, I didn’t want to take them off, because what would people think?! I could not, would not be caught braless. I mean, obviously my chest wasn’t as big as these bras made them seem. What was I to do?! The only solution was to do laundry at off times, to only wash one at a time (and do twice the load, therefore wasting twice the amount of water, etc.), or hand wash them. So. Much. Work.

I was totally participating in the horrible women-shaming culture ideals that preach that women aren’t worthwhile unless they have triple-D cups and a tiny waist–the exact culture I was trying to combat. I was completely investing into everything I said I was against: the ideal body type, the sexualization of the female body, putting your worth in your body.

And here’s the thing: I never measured up–to my own standard’s or anyone else’s.

2. The When

Living in Denver, a notoriously liberal city, I had casually noticed that many girls were choosing to go braless. I thought to myself Oh, that is so awesome! Props to them, but that’s not for me. I guess I approached it the way I approach girls who don’t shave (which I still do, but am totally intrigued by the concept of). The deciding moment, though, was at an anti-Trump rally. Classic liberal move, am I right? Lol.

My friends and I were on Capitol Hill in downtown Denver right off of Colfax, high on the buzz of cohesive protest. The woman behind me was holding up some sign of protest on her piece of cardboard, wearing just a flimsy red tank top with nothing underneath. I remember being so in awe of her openness. She was chanting along with the crowd, totally unnerved by my eyes. I know I was being totally rude, but I just couldn’t believe it! Sometimes, I even slept with sports bras on. I literally couldn’t even imagine going out in public on a chilly-ish night with just a thin tank top on.

I had already been quietly toying with the idea of going braless once and a while when I wore a sweatshirt or something. But seriously, seeing this woman’s bravery and complete lack of caring about other’s opinions was SO inspiring!

3. The What

The next few weeks served as a test-run.

I wore bras without underwire to a job interview and to rehearsals and stuff, to appear a little more “professional” (because boobs are so unprofessional *eye roll*). I tried wearing different kinds of shirts with and without bras, to see how it felt. And quite honestly, the first month was very uncomfortable.

It’s gonna get a lil TMI here for a second. You’ve been warned.

Y’all, my nips were SORE. Like, sore sore. As in, red and painful and all of the other cringe-y words that you don’t want to see associated with the word “nipple”.

I did a little research on this. My idea was that maybe, because my boobs have been so lovingly sheltered and protected my whole life, they were just not used to the harsh reality of fabric. My suspicions were confirmed with a quick Google search. Nips don’t like the roughness of fabric right away.

Thankfully, this went away after about a month. I am thankful I stuck it out though. However, there were (and still are) other challenges.

It is very obvious when someone is staring (which I totally know I did to that woman in Denver, lol). Like, hey men!, newsflash!, women can tell when you aren’t looking at our eyes when you’re talking to us! When you don’t wear a bra though, everyone notices. Then they awkwardly look away, like they weren’t supposed to see your nips or something. As if they’ve NEVER seen nipples before, lol.

I went to the gym a few times without a bra on, which was still great but pretty painful. I have now allowed myself to wear sports bras to the gym.

Of course, we all know what happens when we get cold. I’ve learned to deal with the social response of having visible nips when it’s cold out. I live in Minnesota, for Pete’s sake. It’s going to happen people, deal with it.

There are jackets I own where the zipper annoyingly rubs right on my nips and it’s actually really painful. When I know I’m going to wear those jackets, I either wear a thicker shirt underneath, fold the jacket out in such a way so it doesn’t touch my chest, zip the jacket part way, or I’ll just wear the Calvin Klein bra I own as another physical barrier to the pain.

4. Why it’s worth it, regardless

As I previously mentioned, I spent $78 on two different bras. And to be completely honest, I’ve considered spending more. $78 is pretty typical for a quality, sexy bra pricetag. Of course, I have the staple lace bralette to wear under my nicer, meet-the-parents-type dresses and a sports bra for working out, but those are just cherries on an already overwhelming sundae. Now, I don’t spend money on bras. I still have the bras from Victoria’s Secret, but I don’t really wear them. I don’t even have them at college with me.

I don’t need to consider what a shirt or dress or something would look like with a different type of bra. In addition, I don’t need to buy a special kind of bra for a certain style of clothing (backless, strapless, etc.).

The CONFIDENCE I have gained is the most significant benefit. I have become unapologetic about my body, and my chest in particular. I can totally see when people notice, but I literally just don’t care anymore. My self-worth isn’t placed somewhere on my body, it’s in my mind. It’s in my heart. It’s in the most important part of who I am: me. Not the outward presentation I put forth, but the me that I want people to see. (Also, there’s this, like, ~sisterhood~ when I see another woman going bra-less. I feel very connected to my feminine, sisterly side, lol.)

Granted, it took a while for me to get to this point (I’ve been bra-less for about six months now), but it is SO. WORTH. IT.

Not wearing a bra is the most empowering thing I’ve ever done (not to mention the cheapest, least stressful, most carefree thing).

What do you think? Have you tried going bra-less? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!