It's happened again.
Hatred and discrimination against a people group who are not the majority.
In America. In 2017.
This time with open, self-professing KKK, Neo-Nazis present.
In America. In 2017.
There's a computer in my pocket at all times. A satellite gets me everywhere I want to go daily. I can jump through time zones effortlessly in a cylinder of metal in the sky.
But there is still white supremacy.
In America. In freaking 2017.
I hate to shatter the illusion so many Americans are living in, but we are not nearly as advanced as we as a nation take credit for.
As many other Americans, I am still processing the recent, tragic events in Charlottesville. However, I do know 2 things unwaveringly:
This is unacceptable and must end, and I must do something to irradiate this evil, even if the evil does not effect me directly.
But after the "we must show love!" Instagram captions and tweets, this is where so many people stop. And yet, we are surprised when more casualties occur out of hate, discrimination, and inequality. Posting on social media does not make history.
Don't get me wrong, I love seeing people I know and don't know encouraging us to new heights of light and hope. I write those things as well! But we cannot allow ourselves to write those things and then feel we have played our part. That is the crux of social media: it is a gift for the awareness we can bring, and a crutch, giving us permission to not really act on our desire to see a change in society.
That being said, this piece is about action. So, what are tangible efforts we can do to be on the right side of history? These three steps are not EVERYTHING we can do, but it is a meaningful start.
1. Be Loud
There's a reason why I'm vocal about injustices and inequality as if it's labeled across my head. (If I had an anti-rascim hat like my feminist hat, I would wear one. Send me suggestions!)
Sending out love into the world doesn't make history. Did Abraham Lincoln tell people to be loving and then retire to his house? Did Rosa Parks pray for equality in the back of the bus? Did Martin Luther King Jr. keep his thoughts on injustice to himself to remain politically correct, to make sure he didn't offend any one? Hell no. The people who lead, the thousands who followed, the ones who actually made a life or death difference for generations put themselves out there. They stood grounded. They got physically tired. They. Were. Loud. While posting on social media about love and God and light is sweet, it's also stagnant. It's not active. It's easy and not a road block for those who have hatred and lies pumping through their minds.
I'm talking to anyone with a social media account. Yes, social leaders, celebrities, bloggers, pastors -- yes, of course. But just like your one voice matters, if you have 27 Instagram followers, every one of them deserve to be informed and their voice heard as well.
Speak loudly. Speak boldly, Speak specifically. The freedoms and opportunities you have now are results of others speaking up before you.
2. This is my favorite: Text Your Government Representatives!
Did you know you could do that? If you can share your thoughts with your social media followers from your phone, please share them with your representatives as well. It takes 5 minutes, tops! (Faster than trying to figure out what grammar rules to break to fit everything in a 140 character tweet.)
To start, simply test Resist to 50409. When prompted, you give your name, your zip code, and then the list of women and men who represent you in our U.S. government will appear. Upon choosing the recipients, you can then text a message that will be sent to your reps' offices as a fax. (I'm pretty sure my reps put their fax machine in the closet because this Elisabeth girl won't leave them alone.) But, if 2017 has taught me anything, it is that (whether for moral or bribed reasons) our representatives listen to us. Our voices have been loud, and bills have not been passed.
Some government leaders have been known to reply via email if you choose to leave the address. To learn more, check it out here. (Or just start with the text because, come on, too many nightmares have unfolded and your voice needs to be heard by our senators.)
3. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Please donate to support nonprofits who are working in the thick of it all. All three of these productive steps to help don't require you to leave your couch. Continue sitting on your couch and support those who are emotionally, physically, and spiritually tired from being on the front lines. Here is a list of organizations working to make sure what happened in Charlottesville will never happen again.
This has been my go-to outfit the last few months! It's so easy, pretty comfortable, and a fun conversation starter. I got these overalls on clearance a couple years ago, but I've linked below all the pieces I'm wearing (from overalls, undershirt, to lip color) or pieces that are remarkably similar!
Let me know if you have any other questions + what your favorite style or trend is right now!
Thankfully, this photo is a funny, dramatic exaggeration that I found on my recent trip to Nashville (from Amelia Style's East Nashville boutique). I'm pretty sure I have more magazines than issues (because I'm a print publication fanatic).
But I have been learning a lot lately from the less-fun parts of life. More specifically, I've been letting the sad/frustrated/annoying things teach me more about ME, rather than dwelling on the circumstance or other people who I used to think were to blame. Can we just create a safe, open place here? There definitely are issues sometimes. Life circumstances or incidences with people can be really aggravating. Can I tell you something? Feeling that way doesn't make you a bad person. What matters is what you do with those feelings. If you're like me in the sense that you're big into personal development, the exciting thing is that these moments of aggravation can mold you into the most captivating version of yourself, if you choose to use them that way.
How does one use these lame/dumb/so-not-fun moments to make us better rather than just feeling icky? After reading Jen Sincero's book, You are a Badass, I stopped punching pillows while I was mad and started asking myself questions. (Far better on the heart, and the hands too.) I started asking questions like:
What story am I writing in my head when I'm upset? How am I perceiving reality? And am I making any big assumptions along the way? (That almost, usually, always is a "yes".)
While offended or confused, it's so easy to fill holes in our understanding with emotional explanations. "Everything is going to suck from now on." "She totally tried stabbing me in the back." "This is all my fault, and I can't do anything right." (Using definitive words like, "everything," "totally," "anything," "always," etc. is a pretty good sign you are writing a story for your reality.
How is writing that story adding to my life?
The answer is usually: "Well, I feel a lot crappier. I get to feel right, and I get to feel safer, but I feel grumpy and isolated, too." The knee-jerk reaction stories we write about our circumstances and the other people in them usually do not add what we thing they do to our lives. They don't make us right (as if that's even REALLY important). They don't make us safer. They don't make us "prepared" for when (IF) it happens again. And they sure as hell don't make us happier or more grateful or closer to the kind of people we want to be.
What does this say about me?
Gosh. This is the hard one. What or who gets you really upset? Like, really worked up? Now, imagining that feeling, what does that feeling say about you? What is is saying you are insecure about? Worried about? Try to avoid? Does feeling that way point out to you a trait you want to develop? Or does it indicate a trait you are happy to not have but need to be less judgmental about? Does getting so worked up about it reveal that you are too rigged or too relaxed? It's time that we own our ugly, because it is only when we do that, we can turn it into our beauty.
Lastly, I have been trying to finish this sentence in every up-side-down, totally undesirable moment:
"This is good because..."
...it is showing me that I need to work on an area in my life.
...the rain ruined my hair, but it cleaned my car. And my hair was probably TOO good anyway.
...now I realize I kind of have to be nicer to dog people and. (Not really, I love my dog.)
...the project was a disaster this time, but now I can plan for it next time around.
...even though I procrastinated and hated my life 3 nights before the deadline, I'll start earlier next time.
I'm working on owning my ugly so I can love people better and love myself better. Oh, how important the self love is, my friends. You cannot pour from what is empty. Love yourself until you are just so totally grossed out by the gushy love from yourself, and you need to cool down the self-love a little because you are making everyone else in the room uncomfortable. Bad for gross couples, good for your self-love.
PS - I found those AMAZING blush, suede slider loafers at HALF the price on Zappos (sorry, Amelia). You know your girl got a pair. Just a heads up. (;
I'm very open with the few temporary cosmetic things I have enjoyed. They are FUN! And I wish more women realized that there is no reason to feel ashamed for taking hold of how you present yourself to others.
Feeling bomb about yourself so you can focus on changing the world. > Letting your insecurities hold you back from being yourself and ultimately helping other people.
I’m also convinced that there’s no reason to hoard information, connections, or insight -- especially with other women! It's exhausting to view women as competition. I have been on both ends of making silly little things (such as eyelashes) a point of comparison. I'm so over it, guys. Besides, it's way more fun to share in fun, feminine things rather than experience them alone. When I kept getting questions on my Instagram about them, I decided to answer the most frequently asked ones here! So, read all my answered questions about my eyelash extensions experience so that (if you're thinking about them) you can get them too, and we can woo and awe at each other's fab lashes!
Question 01: Do they hurt? Can you get them wet?
No! The process is painless. You will enter some kind of room at a hair/nail/beauty salon, lay on a reclining chair or bed, and simply relax. The cosmetologist uses two pairs of tweezer-like tools to place one eyelash at a time on one of your own lashes. Remember that someone is moving very closely to your eyes, which is not a common occurrence for most people, so the first few minutes take some getting used to. Before the actual eyelash part starts, most cosmetologists will tape your lower lashes down or cover them will gel pads which will cause your eyes to water, but they don't hurt. This is to keep the glue from sticking to your lower lashes and protect your under eye skin. I will say, every once in a while, there will be an accidental tug that will be uncomfortable, but this only happens to me approximately 3 times per visit.
You can get them wet after 24 hours. (So make sure you shower right before!) Mine get wet all the time in the shower and when I wash my face. I have even swam in the ocean with waves crashing on me and they endured.
Questions 02: Where do I go to get them done?
The #1 thing that will make or break your eyelash extensions experience will be who/where you go to get them. While they are offered almost everywhere with beauty services now, I have been to 3 very different places and had very different experiences. There are 3 things you want to ask before you book your appointment. Trust me, it will save you discomfort, time, and dissatisfaction. Learn from my mistakes.
1.) Ask how long your cosmetologist has been doing eyelash extensions. The first place I went to, where I got my whole set done originally, was a professional salon with with very well trained stylists. The experience was so amazing that I fell asleep while most of it was being done (awkwardly sleeping with my mouth open and everything!).
2.) Ask if they use tape or gel pads for your lower lashed. I know the thought doesn't seem enjoyable. But you know what's even less enjoyable? Having an eyelash pulled off your under eye because they didn't use tape and now it's stuck to your face. Yeah. I would know. The second place I went to for a fill was a nail salon and tape/gel pads were not used on me. Suddenly, the eye watering was far more welcomed.
3.) Ask if they use a sanitary bed. The third place I went to for a fill was a small business owner. Rather than laying on a technician type bed that you would see in a dentist's office or salon, I laid on a cot with a big fluffy pink blanket on it. The fluffy pink blanket was cute and fit her brand, but as I was laying there all I could think about was how many people laid (and sweat) there since it was washed. The lack of professionalism added to the not awesome experience.
Question 03: Do you feel fake?
My response? I feel empowered! Do you know how long I would spend putting mascara on everyday (and then taking it off)? A lot! And even after all that wasted time, I wasn't happy with how they looked. Now, I spend zero time working with my eyelashes. And because I like them so much, I have been wearing a lot less make up. (Cue Beyonce: "I woke up like this.") Eliminating the distraction of eyelashes has opened me up to be more productive and focus on things that truly matter. Plus, it feels good to wake up feeling good! And if anyone has ever made you feel ashamed for wanting to feel that feeling, let me tell you how silly that is. Boldly take matters into your own hands, girl! We don't have time to fret about what we don't like about ourselves. You have too many businesses to start or degrees to collect or people to influence! So, if something is bothering you, do something about it. Then spend your energy chasing your dreams, investing in relationships, and bettering the world!
Get ready to score your beautiful summer days with my summer playlist! I threw everything from summer-y sounds to my current favorites to my all-time happy favorites together in one place for you. I certainly have seasons where I can't make being a music connoisseur a priority. If you do too, I hope I made finding the right song a little bit easier.
A few things:
So, whether you are walking through terminals on a summer adventure, laying out by the pool, or soaking in this season from the comfort of your home, I hope these songs inspire this fun, celebratory season, life at its most pinnacle point of growth and life. Soon, everything will begin to turn inward and change into a different kind of beauty. While we all have favorites, every season has something at which to marvel. Don't miss the spectacle of water and adventure and blooms and sunshine that is Summer.
I asked, and you guys answered. I threw it out there on my Insta Story (Instagram's best move) that if I got enough DMs, I would release summer wallpapers in July! In 2015, I created and released FREE wallpapers for every month for a year! (You can check them all out + download here!)
I still get so much sweetness and requests for more free wallpapers, so I made some summer ones! These feature 4 different styles of my own handlettering calligraphy. Even though it's summer, I made these with the highs and lows from various life seasons in mind. There are times with lots of confidence, and sometimes it's difficult to take another step forward. Whatever season of life you are in, I hope you find some wallpapers that you fancy!
Nothing makes you feel like your life is more together (or can boost your morale in 10 seconds) than a cute iPhone wallpaper (and maybe a matching desktop wallpaper)!
If you need a refresher on how to slip these babies on, here's how...
- go to www.elisabethhuijskens.com on your phone
- hold your finger down on the wallpaper(s) you want
- select save image
- then go to your photos and set it as your wallpaper!
- while setting on your iPhone 6, be sure to scale and select "still"
- go to www.elisabethhuijskens.com on your computer
- double or right click on the image
- save image
- set as desktop picture!
If I had to guess, I would estimate that I've been to Haiti about 20 times in my 22 years. I stopped tallying the number of trips at age 13. So, when my trip to spend some time with our artisan partners in Haiti this summer was quickly approaching (amidst the height our catalog design and production, a business conference, and as I was preparing to move), I was not super stoked, if I'm being 100% honest in my humanity. I love Haiti and my friends + family who live there, but the trip sounded like a lot in the middle of a lot. But you guys, it was one of my favorite Haiti trips ever! I hugged so many familiar friends, shook the hands of my business partners, and kindled new relationships. In the whirlwind of so much beauty, I was reminded again of why I am so passionate about creating sustainable jobs to develop communities and end poverty. Here are some of my trip's highlights + reasons ending poverty through job creation is so important.
1.) Dignified Partnerships
Before Trades of Hope, I did nonprofit work in Haiti at the organization my parents founded from the age of 8 years old to 14 years old. Even while I was a kid, I noticed the awkward dynamic of adults in Haiti having less opportunities in the world than I did as a child. Today, after feeling that weird, unjust feeling for years, my favorite part about sustainable business is that everyone involved is in a dignified partnership. Everyone from the artisans, to artisan group leaders, to the retail company (Trades of Hope), to customers who buy our ethically crafted line of fashion accessories -- we all need each other! All roles are needed to develop communities and end poverty. It's a honor, full of beauty and fun, to partner with these amazing women!
Below are some artisan partners using their creativity and skill to make some of our accessories! Also below, I'm smiling with Chandler (right) who founded one of our partnered artisan groups and with Fabienne and Faby, the group's Director of Operations and boutique manager. The group photo is of the leadership team at one of our partnered artisan groups. They are all stewarding their teams in their work and guiding them in conversations about how they can contribute their time to activist projects to make Haiti better!
2.) Educating Others on How to End Poverty
I love this business because it offers opportunity to learn about and education on what is hurting the world and what we can do to change it! There was so much I didn't realize while in nonprofit work. No one told me that by donating free things, I'm actually hurting someone's chances at success, as well as the local (and national) economy. No one told me that I should think about where I buy my clothes from because most are made in sweatshops. No one told me that a woman can transform her life and the life of others when she just has a job opportunity.
Not only do I get to learn and educate others, but I get to see the lightbulb go off in others' eyes and watch them turn into educators themselves! This is the group I lead down to Haiti, who all had those lightbulb moments. And now, as they educate others about how we can make this world flourish, they are creating a higher demand for ethically made fashion. It's a beautiful and ever-growing ripple effect of change!
3.) Hope for a Beautiful Future
Without a doubt, my favorite part about the trip was meeting Jolina. She was one of the first artisans in her artisan group and today is a stockholder in the company! Jolina has so much authority and confidence while she talks about what her company does. She told me that if someone had just handed out free peanut butter to stifle her hunger for a day, she would still be living in extreme poverty. Hand outs meet a momentary need, but do not solve the problem of poverty. But because she became a part of the artisan group and consistently earned a living wage creating accessories, she bought some land without her husband even knowing, built a house, and now her husband loves the house! Jolina has the pride in knowing that she made that happen! In addition, she now runs a side business she started selling peanut butter, a business that employs other people as well! She is such an inspiration to me and a shining example of what job creation is doing: creating hope for a beautiful future!
This is Ismaella.
She creates necklaces in one of the artisan groups with which Trades of Hope partners. She gave me permission to share her words: “I don't need to ask my mom for money. I became more independent economically, and I can help others also.” Ismaella says her dream is to be a lawyer one day.
I’ll be traveling to Haiti next week on a business trip to see her, and I’m thankful, more than ever to be in this business partnership with her.
Tomorrow, May 13, 2017, is World Fair Trade Day.
Many of the things we buy on a regular basis are made by women, men, and children around the world who are treated and paid very poorly. Approximately, 40% of the world's population exists on $2 dollars a day. When I was a teenager, $10 finds at Forever21 was exciting. Now, I see things on sale for $10, $5, or even $2 and think, “Someone in the process of this product is being taken advantage of.” Underpaid, mistreated people toiling in sweatshops or even slavery contributes to the cheap prices available to us, most often also leaving a damaging footprint on our environment behind.
Fair Trade creates space in the world for socially conscious, dignified, and safe partnerships between product-makers, product-retailers, and product-consumers. Some of the Fair Trade principles include, but aren’t limited to, supporting safe and empowering working conditions, create opportunities for economically and socially marginalized producers, paying producers promptly and fairly, and respecting cultural identity.
Tomorrow is a day to celebrate women like Ismaella who, through fair trade practices and socially conscious shoppers, can reach for her dreams. It is also a day to put our foot down. People toiling in sweatshops, child labor, slavery: these are realities that do not need to exist.
How can we do our part to empower those who are economically and socially oppressed and protect our beautiful world?
1. We can lower the demand.
By not buying cheap products, we lower the retailer’s ability to order more inventory, also lowering the availability of abusive positions that take women, men, and children captive. With most brands not prioritizing the human who make product, this realistically is a gradual change. Don’t try to quit buying everything you do now immediately. That’s not feasible! Just find a couple ethical brands (like Trades of Hope!) or products at a time or choose one area of your shopping to slowly change for the better.
2. We can shop brands that are conscious.
By purchasing from brands that have humanity, equality, and the environment in mind (even if you pay a little bit more), enables companies to have more job positions for women and men around the world. As a founder of Trades of Hope, I can tell you firsthand how the upward growth of our company directly correlates to being able to help more and more people sustainably and long term. In addition to our company that sells fashion accessories and home décor, there are plenty of companies that sell fair trade, ethically made skin care, make up, clothes, and household products. Spend some time on Google and find brands that fit with you.
3. We can buy less stuff and buy more of what truly brings us joy.
I recently made a lifestyle change by buying less that I might only wear for a short period of time, buying pieces on a whim because I thought I might like it. I started asking myself, “Does this really bring me joy? Or am I just buying it because so-and-so had something similar or because it will make people perceive me a certain way?” Keeping pieces that are better quality and that you are truly excited about longer will also lessen the demand for retailers that don’t have humanity’s wellness at heart. If you do want to let something go, bring it to a thrift store so someone else can get their clothes from your closet, again, lowering the demand of sweatshops.
It’s time to start wearing what we believe.
It would be so easy to wear accessories everyone else is wearing, pieces that can be easily found at every surrounding store. But everything we buy was made by someone, a person with a heart and family and dreams, Ismaella. Trades of Hope creates a marketplace of accessories made by artisans in 16 countries who are now earning a safe, sustainable incomes for the first time.
This is what I believe in.
Poverty ending. Hearts hoping. People rising. Nations healing.
What do you believe in?
No. 01 - Colour Pop Ultra Blotted Lip
This lip formula is light, kiss-proof, and stays on all day! Unlike other stains or mattes, the Ultra Blotted Lip is extremely light weight. I don't usually wear make up to the beach, but I love wearing a pop of color on my lips (as long as I know it won't smear in the heat!). I got some really fun shades to wear out under the sun. All 3 of the shades I got are pictured here, from left to right: Zuma (a more neutral, maroon/brown/red), Double Scoop (orange-y + very in style this summer), and Out of Beach (a really bright red/orange, also trending for this summer).
No. 02 - Accessories from Trades of Hope's NEW Summer Line
Jewelry that you can throw on fast, that makes a substantial contribution to your outfit is so important amidst the whirlwind of fun for Summer. As a co-founder of Trades of Hope, obviously I love our pieces. But I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't share our NEW Summer Line with you! It just released today (yay!), and there are statement and everyday pieces of jewelry, accessories, and home decor. Pictured, left to right: the Copper Hammered Studs (easy to throw on to pick up your outfit), the Indu Tassel Necklace (my favorite in this line, the tassel is removable, giving you 2 necklaces for the price of one!), the Chandra Earrings (statement earrings that are so light, you'll forget they are on!). All of our pieces are ethically made by artisans around the world rising out of poverty through sustainable business and job creation!
No. 03 - St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub
In the bright sunny days of summer, loving our skin is all the more important! I use this scrub all year round, but am so thankful for it during the hot, sometimes sweltering days! If I am breaking out at night, I use this scrub, and in the morning, my skin is clear! Having dealt with skin issues my whole life, I am not over exaggerating. If you want to love your skin more, grab this! I pick it up at Publix while I'm grocery shopping, but it's sold almost everywhere.
No. 04 - A Go-To Hat to Make Your Crazy Hair Look "On Purpose"
Whether it's a ball cap, a wide-rimmed sun hat, or a fedora (are those still cool?), you'll want a trusty hat when your hair is the last thing you want to focus on. I just got this Washington Nationals hat in honor of my recent announcement that I'm moving to D.C. in the fall. Getting my money's worth is not going to be a problem!
No. 05 - A "Throw It All In There" Bag
Little crossbody bags and backpacks are great while on the adventure, but while on the journey or on the run or on the way to the beach, having an over-sized tote will be a God-send. Get one you love and one you'll be okay giving a little wear-and-tear. You should be having too much fun to worry about your bag holding up for you. This Dasah Tote from Trades of Hope (ethically made by artisans rising out of poverty in Bangladesh) is so sturdy and will fit anything you could possibly want while on your summer excursions!
I shared on Instagram that I had big news, and I'm excited that I can finally share:
I'm moving to Washington D.C. this summer!
I am so blessed and thankful for this next season, but in the name of true transparency, I must admit that the journey I took to get to this decision alone has grown me so much. I have been stretched and molded by choosing a path that is exciting, but hard. I have decided to move to D.C. and then decided against it 9 times in the last six months, back and forth and back and forth, solely out of fear.
And I must say, I have begun to love the sound of my voice saying "yes" to what is frightening to me but good for me, to what is difficult but right.
The journey started almost a year ago. It was August 2016, and I was surrounded by people my age beginning new adventures. I knew people who were living overseas, chasing pipe dreams, starting law school, and randomly picking places on a map and moving there simply because they thought they liked the city. You know why they did these things? Because they could. Because it ignited a fire of excitement in them, and it felt right.
My favorite people are those who seem to have lived 5 lives by the time they're 30.
I want to be one of those people.
So, it was August 2016, and I was sitting in my mom's office telling her about the people living in England and getting educational experiences and hauling their guitars to new cities. I could feel myself going on and on, and the wonder in my voice was causing tension against the grounded-ness of my near future plans. Finally, she said, "Well, then you should do something like that!"
"Uh, no. No, I could never," was my initial reply. "Trades of Hope is here, I already have my dream job at 21, and I'll figure out the living situation." (I lived in Lakeland, FL and commuted multiple times a week to our Trades of Hope offices in Palm Coast, FL -- about 2 hours apart -- and knew the arrangement wasn't sustainable.)
But my mom kept exploring the idea out loud, saying things about how I'm so young, and this is probably the best time I can do something so spontaneous, and all of the work details could be figured out because life, a really full lifetime, is so much more than working.
I was scared. I'm a planner who likes to pretend that she's in control and have comforting surroundings. I have never been a fan of change. However, through life experiences, that horrified fear has evolved into a distaste that has honesty felt the goodness that comes from shifting seasons. It has evolved so much so that I decided to bring a really big life change upon myself, even though I was (and am) terrified. I determined that I was just going to do it, even if I had to do it afraid.
From there I started dreaming: I could live pretty easily in Europe with my Dutch passport, or some mission work abroad would be so eye-open-- No, there's no way Trades of Hope could be in your life if you're in a different country. Okay, America it is, then. But where? And what? That's when it came down to graduate school.
I graduated with my undergrad 2 years early, as a 20 year-old, in 2015. Ever since I started taking college classes at 14 years old and knew I would be ahead of the timeline society has put on us, I felt I have always had a golden ticket. As Gilmore Girls star, Lauren Graham, also ahead in the education timeline as a girl, described it in her book Talking as Fast as I Can, those years ahead of the curve fell like coins in your pocket that you rub between your fingers like a secret weapon until you are ready to cash them in for a reward at some point in adulthood.
Looking back on it now, the reward was being able to have this past year at Trades of Hope full time. For the last year I have been commuting multiple times a week for 2 hours, one way, to our offices to be a part of our amazing team. It has been so good for me and such a gift. And because I was "ahead" of the game by two years, I cashed in that golden ticket, those coins, to be able to focus on helping Trades of Hope (the company I co-founded and love so much) grow without splitting my time with school, got to have amazing professional experiences before starting my master's, and still get to go to grad school "on time" (whatever the heck that means). It was definitely worth exchanging my ticket and coins to have given what I was able to give to Trades of Hope this past year without school being in the way.
After deciding grad school was what I wanted, I started studying for the GRE. I was determined to get amazing scores, so I began my studying in September 2016 for the Fall 2017 school application season. I figured I already traded in my golden ticket, so a phenomenal GRE score was my ticket out of Florida now. I studied through September, October, November, December, January, and in February, took the test. I applied discipline and diligence to studying for this exam like I never have before. (This is another area in which I saw growth for me.) I bought books, hired an online tutor from Harvard, read more for fun, ate a little better, and made sure I was going to bed at the same time every night (it helps to increase your memory, apparently).
Then, it was time to fill out applications. I completed applications for schools in New York, Boston, and, of course, Washington D.C. -- 5 different schools among the 3 cities. I have always dreamed of a metropolitan experience and decided this was the opportunity. After receiving only acceptance letters, it was just a matter of choosing my favorite city.
I was in D.C. last month and, despite my fears, knew it was the perfect city for me. Beautiful, diverse, cultural, passionate, and not too big -- no where else in the United States has ever spoken to me so gently, so powerfully, so personally. Within Washington, I received admission offers from American University and George Washington University. I am so excited to share that, this August, I will begin working on my Master's Degree in Public Relations at American University. I will be going to school part time so that I can continue pouring myself into Trades of Hope!
If you are thinking about reaching for a dream that feels impossible, let me tell you, if I found a way to move to Washington D.C. despite my personal and professional ties in Florida, your dreams are possible as well. A year ago, I never would have thought this was an option for me. The reality now is freeing and exciting, but also really scary.
I'm probably going to be afraid for a while, even after I get settled into my new home. But I'm going to do this move afraid. Sometimes choosing what is right is choosing to do it afraid, and that's more than okay. There are certain situations in which fear can be eradicated, and I'm a fan of those circumstances. But sometimes, fear stays. And that's when you start talking to it, to fear. Or at least you should, because it works:
"Fear, I understand you have a job, and you're just trying to do your job. We've all gotta pay the bills. So, you can come along on this adventure. However, you're staying in the back seat. I'm the human here, so I'm the only one who will be calling the shots. You can't back-seat-drive; you can't give directions; you can't even touch the aux cord. But you can come along and give your short-lived warnings. But the front is reserved for logic, trust, and thankfulness, and your seat in the back doesn't crowd them out of the car. I'm the one in control."
Fear is good. Its existence does not permit it to take control. You take control, breathe your dreams into reality, and create the life you actually want to live. Use it to empower people, to make the world more beautiful, to build something awe-inspiring, to create something meaningful. You will not regret saying "yes," even if you say it afraid.