This was the year of hurting so bad, but living so good. I compiled 10 of the most important lessons I learned, and the stories that changed me. But in true indy fashion, I took 5 lessons and turned it into a short novel, so with your best interest at heart, I'll save part 2 for later this week.
1. You have to teach your heart to accept what it cannot change
This was the year I finally let go of my first love. I had spent the last four years loving him, and hating him. Things weren't good and they hadn't been good for a long time, but I held on. Over the years, we had changed so much. We loved each other, but that was about the only thing we had in common. And I believed with all my heart that 'love' was enough. It didn't matter how many times we fought, or how many times I drove away from his house crying. We loved each other, and for that reason alone, I still. held. on.
I remember reading the quote "Teach your heart to accept what cannot be changed"
And it hit me like a train. I spent so much time wishing things were the way they were when we were 16 and stupid in love. I wanted him to fight for me. I wanted him to love me. I wanted him to change.
And once I realized that I could not change him, I could not make him fight for me, I could not make him love me...
I let go.
2. INVEST IN PEOPLE WHO INVEST IN YOU
Last year, I learned so much about friendships. Here's what I discovered:
- It's okay to grow apart! I wish I had realized this years ago. I had spent two full years, desperately trying to stay close to my high school friends. The problem was, they all had new ones. They were all moving on, and meeting new people, and we were naturally, drifting apart. I, of course, saw this as the end of the world, and felt personally victimized when they didn't put in as much effort as I was putting in. We had all changed, which was a totally normal thing to have happen, I just took it personally, when I shouldn't have. I was simply putting in the time and energy to these friendships, because of the history we had. And that just wasn't helping anyone. So I stopped. I stopped reaching out, and once I stopped trying, communication stopped all together. And its. okay. I still love these people to death, and our history is still SO IMPORTANT TO ME! But my happiness doesn't rely on that anymore, that's all. Once I accepted that growing apart is just a part of life, I was so relieved. My feelings of jealousy turned into genuinely being happy for these friends. And once I did that, it was so much easier to focus on my friends who were present, and investing in me.
- Keep your circle small. I remember being in seventh grade, on my first yearbook day, going absolutely mental on signatures. Abby S. from social studies? Did we ever talk? No. Did we ever make eye contact? No. Did I get her signature? Damnnnnn right!! I guess having a filled yearbook was my way of convincing myself I had a lot of friends. Growing up, I think thats all I ever wanted. I wanted friends in every clique, in every grade, in every club. Now, I'm 20 years old and I can count my good friends on one hand. And I'm happy! My circle is small. My heart is full. -- And so is my bank account. (having a lot of friends is expensive, i'm now remembering. being a loser around the holidays is much more affordable.)
- AGE IS JUST A NUMBER! Once upon a time, I was fresh out of high school. I was hanging out with a girl a couple years older than me, and she was taking me to a party. As we were walking in, I remember her saying, "If anyone asks, tell them you're 22." I was confused, considering I already looked like a freshman in highschool who had just gotten their braces off. "Why?" I asked. She said to me, "Well, what if you were my age. Would you want anyone knowing you hung out with an 18 year old?" In my head I was thinking, "Ummmm yeah?" but instead I just rolled my eyes, and put my tamagotchi back in the car.
I always remembered that though. Because, to me, we're just people. And we're all just big kids really. It didn't occur to me that I couldn't be friends with someone because of my age.
Last year, I messaged a girl I followed on instagram, and asked if I could film a video of her and her family. I was a total stranger, but she immediately said yes, and offered us a place to sleep while we were in town. We got in to California late one night in the summer, and as we were walking in to their house, that thought came into my head. "If they ask, tell them you're 22." HA! I had been so insecure, ever since that day, that I couldn't be friends with anyone who wasn't my age. Long story short, we sat in their living room that night and talked for hours. I told them I was 19, and Tristen told them he was 18, and they didn't even bat an eye.
That was six months ago.
Last week, tristen and I spent new years with them. They are almost exactly 10 years older than us, but some of my closest, and dearest friends.
So if anyone asks how old you are, tell them AGE IS JUST A NUMBER!
3. THE ART OF "FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT"
At the beginning of 2017, Tristen and I were eager to travel. He had never been out of the country, and I had only been to Thailand, but we were dead set on crossing some items off of our bucket list. The only problem was... we were broke. I scraped the bottom of my savings account to afford a $400 round trip ticket to Milan (how do you pass that up??! you don't. that's how.) and he did the same, and then all of the sudden, we were two broke kids with plane tickets.
We needed a plan.
A couple months earlier when I was in Thailand, I successfully acted like a famous fashion blogger at the four seasons, and was given a tour of the resort in a private golf cart, and treated to drinks and snacks on a remote beach. It was just a joke I never thought would work, but I ended up with a newfound confidence. Confidence that would later help us out.
I said to Tristen, "If they were that willing to give an unknown fashion blogger the VIP treatment, theres got to be other hotels that are to as well."
So we emailed.
and emailed. and emailed.
Keep in mind, "influencing" really took off in 2017, but no one was doing this yet. No one with under 1 million followers at least. We had no idea what we were doing. We just crafted an email, promising social promotion as well as providing them with a video that we would film for their own websites, in exchange for lodging at their hotel.
We probably emailed every single hotel in Italy. My theory was that if we emailed 200 hotels, at least ONE was bound to say yes, and thats all we needed.
And that is exactly what happened.
We arrived to Milan late at night, still in sweats, and messy buns, absolutely BEAT from a 15 hour flight. But it was go time. It was time to fake it.
I took my 50 pound suitcase into the airport bathroom, laid it on the middle of the floor, and dug through, looking for something nice and respectable to wear. Something a level 10 influencer would wear. I put on a pink top with fur lined sleeves, threw on some heels, and winked at myself in the mirror. I was ready.
I walked out of the bathroom, the same time Tristen did, who had also transformed into a suave GQ looking model who probably had a hot girlfriend and 3 houses in southern france. We nodded at each other, and called a taxi.
I'll never forget walking up to our hotel, and saying to each other, "okay, we need to act polite and grateful, but not TOO grateful right? Yeah, yeah, for sure, because we're doing THEM a favor. Yes. Act like we do this all the time."
(Now. I have to give us some credit here, writing this story an entire year and several collaborations later. We weren't "faking" anything, to the point of being dishonest. We were very professional and gave the hotel what we promised, and worked really hard to provide quality content for them. But like I said, at this time it was only big bloggers and celebrities working these kinds of deals, and we felt so inadequate, we wanted to seem as prepared and experienced as we could... which is where the "faking it" came in.)
We met the hotel manager, greeted him with our best italian that we had learned from google translate in the elevator up to the lobby, and followed him to our room.
He opened the doors to the presidential suite, and I thought for sure there had to be a mistake. He would quickly realize who we were, and throw us in the hostel next door where the level 3 influencers belong. But we kept our cool, nodding, smiling softly, all the while mouthing profanities at each other every time he turned his head.
"HOLY S!(@)*#&$&^*$!#$ IS THIS OUR ROOM???"
He pointed out a massive vase filled with tulips we had asked for, robes and slippers to use, and informed us that room service was available at all hours of the night, 100% complimentary.
We thanked him, and as soon as we heard the door shut behind him, began squealing like 5th graders at a jonas brothers concert. We were just KIDS! How did we find ourselves here? How did we do it? I'll never forget, opening the door to the our balcony and Tristen just hugging me saying "we did it! we did it"
and we did. we made it.
4. BEAUTIFUL THINGS DON'T ASK FOR ATTENTION
I have a lot of days where I later look back and think "that was the best day of my life." But few, where I think so, while I'm actually living it. But on this day, in bali, I knew. Oh boyyyyy, I knew.
It was towards the middle of our two week trip, and we were pretty exhausted. I hate to stay put when I travel, and I get so anxious about everywhere I need to go and see in such a short amount of time. In planning this trip, Nusa Penida was at the very top of my list.
We had to bargain for a good price on boat tickets. It was hard, but luckily we didn't have to sell nicole to be the boat drivers wife. He gave us a good deal and we were on our way. The cool thing about this island, is it's an island. It's the island you hear about in stories and movies. Covered in jungle, inhabited by locals only, no paved roads, no restaurants or hotels, and only one gas station for scooters. It was absolutely amazing. The only downside? No wifi.
NOW BEFORE YOU BRAND ME A CLASSIC MILLENIAL WITH NO SENSE OF ADVENTURE---- The wifi wasn't for me to post a fire snapchat puppy filter selfie. It was so we could look up directions for our air bnb. (but like, I was also depriving my followers of a good selfie) We forgot to do that before we left, and now we were stuck, quite literally stranded on an island, with no direction. We dragged our suitcases through the gnarliest dirt road for what felt like miles, until we found someone to rent us scooters. We then rode our scooters for hours with our heavy luggage piled on top of our laps, through the jungle, asking any local we saw if they knew where "air bnb" was. Im quite positive we were staying at the only air bnb on the island, because the local people knew exactly what we were talking about and would smile as they pointed us in the right direction.
We finally get there, 4 hours later than planned, and we realize there is no food in sight. No stores, no restaurants, and we hadn't eaten since 8 that morning. My legs were bruised from the suitcases, the sun was about to set, we hadn't done anything, and I was pissed. I was seriously in the worst mood, ask anyone there. they were terrified.
Almost as soon as we got to our villa, we got back on the scooters to try and get to Kelingking Beach, before it was dark. Our air bnb host said it would take us hours, which only made me even more mad, but we were determined to get there.
The first half of the ride up there, I was still feeling sorry for myself. I was so annoyed with how the day had gone, and how hungry and uncomfortable I was. I was making myself miserable.
I was always on the back of Cru's scooter, and despite my bad mood, he was so fun to ride with. He would always honk at the local people and they would always wave and cheer and smile as big as they could.
He started singing high school musical songs, at the top of his lungs and I eventually started laughing so hard that I joined in. The sun was peeking through the palm trees, and it hit me all at once, how BEAUTIFUL everything was. Everything! And I began to cry. We were going so fast, and my tears were flying off my face in the wind, and I was smiling, and laughing and I remember thinking "i've never been happier in my entire life." when minutes earlier, I was feeling the complete opposite.
All it took was turning the corner and seeing the ocean, or noticing the monkeys in the trees, or just looking behind me and seeing 6 of my closest friends on scooters following us, in BALI. WE WERE IN BALI. WE WERE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD IN A REMOTE ISLAND THAT PEOPLE DAY DREAM ABOUT. THAT IS BEAUTIFUL!
And I realized that it had been beautiful the whole time. Literally, nothing had changed in the last hour, except my perspective. My surroundings didn't just magically become beautiful and exciting. It was there the whole time. I was just so focused on being negative, that I was blind to it all. But thats the thing about beautiful places. And beautiful people. And beautiful things. They don't ask for attention.
We have to be ready to see them. Whether its cliffside in Indonesia, or it's 3 am driving to mcdonalds with your best friend. Life. Is. Beautiful. Always.
We just need to open our eyes.
5. 'THERE ARE SYMPHONIES THAT ARE SCREAMING IT IS GOING TO GET BETTER. LISTEN TO THE MUSIC.'
2017 broke my heart. And if you've had your heart broken, you knooooooow it hurts like hell. when your heart breaks, your heart really breaks, man. And It's hard to ask for help when you need it. It's even harder to accept it when it's offered. Hearing "it's going to be okay" after brad just crushed your 19 year old little heart JUST KIND OF REALLY SUCKS OKAY MOM????
But moms are always right.
It is all going to be okay. And as your honorary internet mom, i'm required to tell you this as well.
One night, several months ago, I was filming a wedding and I ran into an old friend from high school who pulled me aside to tell me about a rumor an ex boyfriend had been spreading about me. I went outside and called him, and nearly fell to my knees when he admitted to saying these terrible things. Everything from that night was a blur. Tristen, was assisting me at the wedding, and I texted him saying I needed him to finish filming for me. After that, I basically laid on the golf course of the reception venue, and cried. Like Kim Kardashian ugly crying.
After the wedding, I'm driving tristen home, trying so so so super hard not to cry infront of my boy best friend and make things awkward, but he knew something happened. I finally told him what was wrong, and he said to me, "I know you don't want to hear this, but it will get better."
I got home that night, and fell into Kate's (my roommate) arms, and just cried some more. I was laying on her bed, telling her the details of the night, vowing to never love again, when I get a text from another boy.
"Hey, I'm on my way, i'll be there soon!"
GREAT. I completely forgot I had a date that night. A first date. The first date I had been on in four months, at that. It was practically a blind date, even, and I could not, would not, under ANY circumstance go on a date that night. Not in that state. Not after all my eyelash extensions had fallen out. No way.
But Kate, doing her roommate duties, forced me to get up and get ready. She threw me a makeup wipe and said "it's going to be okay." and I wanted to hit her in the face for saying that.
But I think I knew she was right.
The rest of the story is that I went on the date. It was a first date. Practically a blind date. The first date I had been on in four months. But I went. And it was good.
His name was Landon, and everything is okay.