Enjoying the beach in Hong Kong during my study abroad program there!
Hanging out on the prettiest of benches at a friend’s wedding.
Loved this winery at a bachelorette party!
Thanksgiving with my brother (he’s going to kill me for this one) and little Miss Ruby.
So happy to be done with my MBA!
For me 2016 was life changing in the best possible way. It has been over a year since my last blog post, and with good reason. This was the toughest blog post that I have ever written, as it is the most honest, but I wanted to explain why I have been MIA for so long. Grab a snack, because this is a long one!
The prior year was the most difficult of my life, between my parents going through a divorce, my dad fighting cancer, and a really tough breakup (there is an uplifting ending to this story, I promise!). I hated talking about all of these things because I never wanted to negatively affect other people around me. With these personal struggles, on top of the daily grind of a highly demanding job and graduate school, I didn’t think that I could handle one more thing being added to my plate. But that’s precisely when life threw another curve ball. The week after returning from my trip to Egypt (a.k.a. the subject of my last blog post a century ago), I found out that I would have to take a difficult licensing test for work that would require studying for the next three months. At this point blogging was put on hold, but something else happened too. I made a conscientious decision to not just survive the next few months, but to face all of these challenges head on with resiliency and an optimistic attitude. So while I didn’t blog over the course of 2016, there are more than a few positives that have come out of this last year!
2016 is the year that I started to take care of myself again. This was the most immediate change that I made. At this point in time, it had been yeeaars since I had worked out consistently. One day at work, in early February, I approached a coworker, my interactions with whom had been pretty slim up to that point. I knew that she was a fitness guru though, so who better to ask for help! What I expected was a little reintroduction to lifting weights and some help with a nutrition plan (to cut out my addictions to dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets and Taco Bell!). What I received instead was a personal trainer who taught me to love fitness again, a nutritionist who taught me how to eat healthier in a sustainable way, a savior who taught me to not be so hard on myself (among other wise lessons), and most importantly, a lifelong friend.
2016 is the year that I laughed again, really hard! For the most part I would consider myself to be a very happy person, but I lost that for a solid year of life. I’ve always been one to smile through talking about things that are painful in an attempt to make others less uncomfortable. And in 2015, I put on the best act of my life. I realized that I was in no way helping myself by trying to fool others though and I then put effort into surrounding myself with old friends and making new ones. Now, more than ever, I have so many amazing and supportive people in my corner.
2016 is the year that I learned to stop and smell the roses. This is a funny phrase, and one that I didn’t fully understand at first. My boss at work had told me this numerous times over the last three years and every time was met with the response of an eye roll. Who has time for slowing down? I sure didn’t. I’ve always been uncomfortable talking about my accomplishments, a trait that unfortunately many women share. I knew from a young age that I was independent and a hard worker and was of course well-aware of the grit that it took to get through the daily pressure that I put on my self; a pressure to be “successful”, the standard for which is so subjective, and yet nothing I accomplished was enough by my standard of the word. I never really thought too much about how rare it was to work two jobs at the age of 22, with the objective of buying a house, and immediately after meeting that goal, moving on to work on a master’s degree while building a career.
At 27 years old, I wanted for nothing. In theory, I had everything that I could possibly desire – the perfect condo, a nice car, and the ability to spend pretty freely on cute clothes. But these things were just that – things, and weren’t really adding to my happiness (well, maybe the clothes do!). I don’t think I’ll ever really be able to slow down because I’m way too type A, but I have learned to not let the daily grind interfere with appreciating the small things and making time for my friends and family.
2016 is the year that I decided to be open to love. This is something that I put on my 30 before 30 list that I wrote at the age of 23, but only recently started to really contemplate. I used to think that I wouldn’t get married until my mid-30s. My goal was to first and foremost be successful in a high-powered career. Opening myself up to love really came down to the fact that I had to acknowledge that I would not be compromising my academic or professional successes because I had already been recognized for those.
I hesitantly voice this, as so many women that I absolutely adore looked forward to their wedding above all else. But what I have always hoped for is a world where women are recognized not only for the rock on their finger, but for their academic achievements, successes in their careers, and entrepreneurial spirits. These are accomplishments that require so much hard work and, for women in particular, a lot of tenacity. But I also came to realize that I couldn’t pretend to know the amount of hard work that goes into a married life relationship. While I still hope that people one day express the same amount of excitement over an important job promotion for a woman as they do when she announces her engagement, I have definitely managed to come down off my high horse!
2016 is the year that I finished my master’s degree in business. This almost didn’t happen. When I was halfway through the program and in the midst of that tough year that I mentioned, I was overwhelmed and seriously contemplated quitting. I would have, were it not for a conversation with close friends, who told me that quitting was not even an option. I like to consider myself a pretty tough cookie, but sometimes even I am only as strong as those surrounding me. And in that moment, I was so fortunate to be surrounded by other tough cookies. I view finishing my MBA as one of my largest achievements, not because of the title but because I did so in the midst of adversity and surprised even myself.
And now for the really big one – 2016 is the year that I decided to be fearless. As I mentioned earlier, for the first time I actually stopped to smell the roses. In the months leading up to the conclusion of grad school, I contemplated what would come next. I asked myself, if I could do anything and not be afraid, what would it be? My answer was to leave behind the life that I had spent the last several years building for myself and travel the world.
I am currently writing this blog post while drinking coffee at my beautiful hotel in India. I have been traveling for about five weeks now and have had the time of my life! I will eventually return to blogging about fashion, as this is of course the passion that originally fueled Classically Claire, but my next several posts will be focused on my trip thus far. Tomorrow I leave for Europe, so please share your favorite cities and sites with me!
Thanks for reading and see you again soon!