Things I’ve Accomplished In My Twenties (so far)

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To speak like an elementary school kid, I am 24 and a half. It’s easy to look back on this decade in my life and feel like I’ve gotten literally NOTHING done. I’m “between” jobs, I’m single, don’t have my own apartment, and I don’t drive. It’s easy to feel like I’m not getting anything I want done, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t accomplished anything in the last four and half years, right? Of course not! Here are ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far):

I Graduated From College: This is probably the first big thing that comes to mind. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in English just a few days before my 22nd birthday. I completed it in four years, which not everyone does, so I guess that’s pretty awesome?? I graduated with honors, cum laude, and all that fancy stuff. And I made friends I still chat with today!

I Made Friends: Ya know, I spent a huge, and I mean huge chunk of my life believing that I was bad at making friends. Starting in elementary school I had bullies, in fifth grade I moved to a different school district (you know what THAT does for a kid’s social life), and it wasn’t until middle school that I started having “best friends.” In high school I had a few best friends, and then in college I had even more.

I have one or two friends I’ve kept in touch with from high school. And about four or five I still keep in touch with from college, so you can see how things improved! And it only took like a quarter of a century! Seriously, I hadn’t thought about making friends as an accomplishment until this moment, but it is one, isn’t it? You’re lucky if you can find good, kind friends. But it’s also something that requires effort and good habits to keep in touch.

I Embraced My Sexuality: This is a multi-faceted, complex one, the main part being that I embraced being bi/pansexual with a preference for women. I still have some anxiety here and there, but ultimately I feel really good about who I am, and I couldn’t be prouder to be queer. Learning and connecting more with the LGBTQ community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

But there’s more to sexuality than my orientation, so it’s kind of like I’m working on phase two of my sexuality confidence. For me, this means learning to feel more comfortable in my body, and feeling sexy, beautiful and confident by own standards, not by society’s. It means conforming sometimes to my culture’s standard of beauty for women (i.e- shaving my legs), while also needing to love my body for everything it is in its natural state.

This is a big thing to work on, and honestly, it’s a no wonder it feels so daunting. The U.S has to be one of the most sex negative countries in the world. Especially if you’re a women, it can be hard to unlearn all of the toxic things we internalize. Like needing to be “pure,” waiting until marriage, slut shaming, etc.

Sooo this is a work in progress for me. Maybe I need to watch more French films. The French are cool with sex, right?

I Wrote Things: One thing I’ve definitely focused on since I graduated from college is writing. I self published six poetry books and a book of short stories, and gave a book to one of my favorite bands. I wrote articles for a magazine in Manhattan, did freelance work for a marketing agency (short-lived and under paid, but it still happened!), I started (and maintained) this blog, submitted poems, articles, and stories while facing rejection, persevering with my work like a BOSS, and I worked on bunch of other projects that only my eyes have seen.

I’ve also seen how my words have been able to move, comfort, and inspire people, whether it’s in my poetry books, or something I post on the internet. It’s confirmed that words have power, and that this is one of my gifts in this life. I’ve learned that it’s hard, I mean really hard to make money as a writer, but I’ve also learned how satisfying it is for me to take a DIY approach to this craft, and other artsy things as well. It’s a huge part of my life, and it’s one of the best things to come out of my twenties.

I Went To Vegas: It was rad. First time on the West Coast ❤

I Voted For A Woman For President: Okay, we all know how this one turned out. But still, I got to vote for a woman! How cool is that?!

I Applied To Grad School: Applying to grad school is something I considered doing for a long time. I thought about applying for something related to my current degree, like English or creative writing, but it didn’t create more job opportunities like I wanted, and needed. Eventually I decided to apply for a master’s degree in social work, and if I get accepted, I’ll be starting school next fall. Fingers crossed!

I Went To Concerts: I’ve gotten to see a few awesome artists in concert. Demi Lovato (got a photo with her, too! Thanks to my cousin), Miley Cyrus, Tegan and Sara, Kesha, DNCE, Kristen Chenoweth, Christina Perri, Kiesza, and Little Mix. Here’s to many more!

I Learned How To Navigate The NYC Subway: For reasons I can’t explain, I had this weird thing where I associated being an adult with being able to navigate the NYC subway system. I guess I felt like, if I can learn my way around Manhattan, I can learn my way around anywhere. Hit me up if you need directions to the Financial District.

I Celebrated Samhain: I didn’t do much, just made some art and had my own little dinner. I’ve been learning more about witchcraft, paganism, and other forms of spirituality. I’ve been meditating with crystals, and following different thought leaders like Mastin Kipp, Gabby Bernstein, Oprah, Tony Robbins, and the Dalai Lama.

This is a super important path for me, because I’m pursuing my spirituality on my own terms without worrying about anyone else’s dogma or approval. I’m finding my own path, and I’d say that’s important for any twenty-something.

So there it is, ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far). I’m four and half years into this decade, and I truly hope more good things are to come. I may not have everything I want, but I’m on my own journey and moving forward at my own pace. Your accomplishments are treasures. I hope you collect many on your own travels.

-Ashley

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Thoughts on 24

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I’ll be 25 in six months. I read somewhere that when you turn 25, that’s when your brain transitions more into adulthood, or something along those lines. And I can kind of see that. I feel like I’m at a point where I’m still wanting to experiment, while also looking for constants. The truth is though, being in your twenties is hard. I see this as a decade of my life that’s one big experiment. It’s filled to the brim with failure, and it’s filled with the illusions of what you think your life should look like.

By 24, lots of people in the boomer generation were married, buying their first house, and having babies. At least, that’s how it seems. If my math is correct, my parents were 25 and 27 when they got married, and less than a year later I was born. So, by that standard, I still “have time” to figure things out. Right?

Honestly, by thirty I’ll probably be single. If I’m lucky, I’ll live in a shoe box apartment in Brooklyn, and if I’m really lucky I’ll have a cat.

The thing I hate about being in my twenties is that this is the youngest I’m ever going to be, while also being independent and old enough to do anything I want. But I can’t even enjoy it because I’m too stressed about having a career, AND a relationship, AND a car, AND exercising/ eating healthy, AND earning degrees, AND having an apartment, traveling, etc. Not to mention wanting to be happy 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

I’ll be the first to admit I get stressed because I try to do everything at once. But maybe the truth is, we can’t expect ourselves to do and have all of those things at the same time, can we? In high school and college, the only thing I really truly had to worry about was school. There may have been jobs and skills to build on the side, but school was the one thing that was really important. It was the top priority for my time.

After graduating, it’s like everything becomes the top priority. At least that’s how I feel. Suddenly, work, relationships, and everything else needs to be number one. It’s like everything you want in life is part of a Jenga tower, and if you don’t get one thing quite right, the whole tower (i.e- your whole life), will come crumbling down.

Of course, that’s not really how life works. People I know in their 50s, 40s, and even 30s are either married or not, they have kids or they don’t, they live in their own house, or they don’t. I’m not saying people don’t stress when they’re older, or that they don’t get bummed out about not having things they want, but I do feel like there’s less pressure.

In your 20s, people want to know how you’re using that degree you just got. They want to know if you’re dating if you’re single, or if you’re gonna marry the person you’re dating, or if you and your spouse are gonna have kids, or if you’re gonna breast feed the kids you already have, etc, etc, etc. It’s endless. If you don’t have a job, people want to know if you are looking. If you’re earning a degree, they want to know what you’ll do with it. It’s like being a young adult gives everyone permission to watch you under a microscope, and to make sure your decisions and answers align with whatever can make them the most comfortable.

I always thought my twenties would have a sense of adventure, but instead, it just feels like a long climb toward stability. Now that I’m halfway to twenty-five, it just makes me think. I don’t want to spend the rest of this decade feeling stressed and sad and inadequate. I don’t want it to pass me by while I’m drowning in job applications or worried about being “forever alone.”

But unfortunately, as much as I want to live my life to the fullest, I don’t really know how. I want to do what makes me happy, but it doesn’t always feel that simple. I’ve learned the hard way that no one but you cares if you’re in a lane that makes you unhappy. You have to fight for that on your own. And sometimes that fight is exhausting, or it has to wait.

The past five years have been transformative. I’ve been through a lot, accomplished a lot, and learned so much. It hasn’t all been failure and sadness, but it can feel that way at times. I remember the anxious times more than I remember the good times.

I want the next five years to be better. I hope they are. I hope happiness can be less elusive.

Gender Equality and Inclusion

Feminism has always been a complex movement. When women first fought for the right to vote in the UK and the U.S., it was noble, but it wasn’t all inclusive. This right to vote was intended for a specific demographic, namely white women. It didn’t include women of color, or any person of color for that matter. That’s not to say that what these women did wasn’t admirable, because even as a woman of color, I look up to the suffragettes. I don’t think people necessarily mean to forget about marginalized populations, but it happens none the less, even in the 21rst century.

Even in our culture that is probably more accepting than it has ever been, our feminism tends to lack inclusion. We can’t have a feminism that only pays attention to the needs of white, cisgender women. Women of color, trans women, gender nonconforming individuals, people who are differently abled, people with learning differences, and LGBTQ women face challenges that are unique to them. But when marginalized groups are not actively represented in feminist movements, their challenges and needs are not being addressed. They are not being given a voice for the discrimination they face.

I think that we have the potential to undergo an amazing cultural shift. Inclusion and acceptance of people of all genders, giving everyone the opportunities they need to be safe and productive in society, this can only lead to a more open-minded and compassionate world. Compassion seems like a simple concept, but our society makes it complicated. This virtue needs to be at the heart of what we do. Words matter. Ideas matter. The way we treat each other matters. Striving for a gender equality that is inclusive, while acknowledging the needs of specific demographics, can be one of the most important things our society does as a whole.

Lonely Suburbs

The suburbs are painstakingly lonely when you’re not in school anymore. There’s not much to do and finding a sense of community is nearly impossible. Most things you’d do to meet people aren’t very accessible, whether it’s trying to find a place a volunteer (that’s mostly been a dead end for me), going to events (there’s only so many you can go to), or the most laughable of all, trying to find a local job. It seems all I can really do is count down the days until I can afford to leave. I’m fine with the fact that building a career takes time. But if I’d known I would feel this stuck, I would have gotten more work experience when I was still in college. I’d certainly be further along by now. The only benefit to having alone time is that I can get plenty of writing done.

A few of my favorite creative writing and art blogs

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about online literary magazines. Today I’m gonna talk about creative writing and art blogs! Blogs are a great way to find poems, stories and artwork you’ll love. Here are twelve of my favorites:

StarsRainSunMoon – Also titled “Arrows & Metaphors.” This is one of my favorite blogs that I’ve stumbled upon on WordPress. The author posts lovely poems and photographs.

Very Short Fiction – I didn’t discover this blog until recently, but the title says it all. This blog is stories, stories, and more stories! The author has maintained this site since 2008. Check out his “The Author” page to learn a bit more about him.

‘V’ as in Vixen – Another WordPress blog, this author’s writings are relatable and emotional. You can’t read her work without feeling connected to her experiences.

Beautiful Hello – You guessed it, this blog is from WordPress too 🙂 The author shares her paintings, enjoyable insights, and thoughts on living a creative life.

The Mischief Memoirs  – The author of this site posts thought-provoking poetry and artwork. They also sell their artwork online.

Cameron D Hamilton – This author posts poetry, stories, thoughts, and more. His posts are relatable, honest, and often give insights into his everyday life.

Button Poetry – Button Poetry is a Tumblr blog that posts videos of performance poets.

Mindful Poems – Another Tumblr blog, this site posts beautiful poems that are also aesthetically pleasing.

Queer Poets – A blog with work by and for queer poets.

Erin Anastasia – Blog, vlog, same difference right? This vlogger makes poetry videos that are totally worth checking out.

Little Short Stories – Little stories, cute images, and adorable rhymes. Also powered by Tumblr.

Black Poets – A blog that features Black poets each week.

It’s impossible for me to list all the blogs I’ve liked. I follow so many talented people on WordPress alone. These are just a few that have inspired me. I hope you enjoy them too ❤

 

 

 

 

Trying to find my way

Nothing much to say. Applying for jobs is a soul-sucking experience. It’s impossible to do it without feeling sad. I don’t understand why basic survival has to be placed so far out of reach, especially for recent college grads. I feel like everything I want to do isn’t realistic. I don’t know where to start so that I can have my own life. I’m feeling pretty lost and hopeless and I don’t know when things will get better.

I know lots of people can relate to these feelings. Hopefully we can get through it all together.

 

Apps to Help You Stay Hydrated

Summer time is here! And between balancing work, family, chores, and vacation-planning, it can be easy to forget to make our health a top priority. As the days get hotter and we spend more time outdoors, an important part of staying healthy is to drink plenty of water. Not only is staying hydrated a basic way to help us, well, NOT die, but it also helps us to have healthy skin, hair, and nails. It improves our circulation, helps us to cool off, helps us to take a moment to relax, keeps our lips from getting super chapped, and helps to cleanse our bodies of toxins (you know what they say, to avoid a hangover, drink water).

In addition to being super busy, it can also be hard to stay hydrated when our first instinct is to grab a beverage that doesn’t do a great job of hydrating us. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t crack open that can of soda or poor yourself an ice-cold glass of juice from concentrate. It’s all about having things in moderation. If you enjoy a sugary beverage, but you feel you could use more refreshing water in your life, here are a few apps that can help you stay hydrated all summer long:

iDrated. Based on the name, you can tell that this app was created by Apple and for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch users. After including some basic information about yourself, iDrated helps you to track how much water you drink throughout the day, gives you some insight into how hydrated you are, and allows you to set reminders for when you should drink water next.

WaterLog. This app is available for free in the Google Play store. It allows you to keep track of how much water you drink, lets you set reminders to drink more throughout the day, and allows you to keep track of how well you’ve reached your daily hydration goals.

Drinking Water. This app is also available for free in the Google Play store. The concept is simple. You set a goal for how many cups of water you want to drink each day, and you set times for the app to remind you when to drink a cup. If you turn your phone horizontally, the app will show you how many cups of water you drank each day. The description in the app says you can also use it for beer.

 

These are a few of many apps that can help you to drink more water. Keep in mind that while notifications can provide you with good reminders, no one can know what your body needs more than you do. There may be days where you need to drink more (like if you spend hours in the hot sun), and other days where you might not need to drink as much (like if you spend the day in an air-conditioned room binge-watching Netflix and napping).

The point of all of this is so that you can be your healthiest and best version of yourself. If you need extra reminders to take care of yourself, like with anything else, there’s probably an app for that. And above all, listen to your body. Because at the end of the day, it knows best.

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[Disclaimer: I am not certified to give any kind of health-related advice. This is simply an informative article to provide apps you may use at your own discretion].