Monday, August 31, 2015

The Last "First Day"

What I Wore - Dress: J. Crew Factory, Shoes: Dolce Vita, Earrings: Madewell, Lipstick: Bite Beauty "Brandy", Backpack: Duluth Pack

Today was my first day of school. My first day of my senior year of college. My very last first day of school. I've always been someone who spends the whole of August counting down the days until school starts again. By that point I've usually grown bored of not having a schedule (although that was not an issue this summer), am itching to see my friends everyday, and have a stack of new clothes in my closet that I've been saving all summer to wear. But mainly, I get excited for the first day of school because I have always seen it as an opportunity to introduce the new and best version of Eva; to blow my peers and teachers away with how I've changed (or magically somehow became cooler over the summer, although this stopped happening after I shaved my eyebrows off right before seventh grade). Mainly, I like reinventing myself because the image I have of who I want to be is ever changing and my first day of school outfit has always been indicative of what that desired image of myself is.

Last year I really wanted to embrace all of the new found independence and confidence my semester abroad had given me. I really felt I knew what I wanted and was not going to let myself get in the way of making it all happen. I had a lot of expectations for junior year. My leather mini skirt, pointy toed flats, and embellished oxford shirt on the first day of school made that known. This year, my last year, feels different. I want my senior year to be exactly whatever it's going to end up being. I want to work really hard, spend time with the people I love, do things that challenge and excite me, and stay true to who I have become over the past four years. So I kept my outfit simple and wore what felt natural to me. A shirt dress, nude flats, simple jewelry, and a bold lipstick. I still felt like the best, most authentic, version of myself without feeling like I had to make a statement about it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Take Care

I start my senior year of college in less than a week, which is equal parts terrifying and thrilling, but with the approach of my last first day of school has come a resurfacing of old fears, insecurities, and doubts. Since being in college and gaining more and more independence and responsibility I've learned that at this stage in my life my biggest responsibility is to take care of myself, which sounds so much more simple than it's been. The practical activities such as remembering to get the oil changed in my car and feeding myself meals more substantial than peanut butter toast have come fairly easy for me, but regularly checking in with my emotional wellbeing and taking time for "self-care" is a bit less intuitive. Over time and with the influence and support of my close friends I have found that really good, productive, and effective self-care is not just one thing for me. I can't just spend the day painting my nails and watching Say Anything, I've also got to cry about it, call my mom on the phone, and then share a pizza with my roommates. It's a lot! Sometimes it takes a whole weekend and sometimes I really really don't want to do it. But I'm always brighter and lighter after it all.

So, since it seems to be the season of sharing "back-to-school" tips I thought I would share what I think is the key to success - taking really good care of yourself. This is what works for me, maybe it won't work for you, but I hope that it might at least get you thinking about what might.

It would seem that my preferred method of getting my feelings out into the open is generally in the form of crying/yelling/word vomit, usually late at night when I'm too exhausted to hold it in anymore, to anyone who'll lend an ear to listen. I always find this to be the most painful part of my self-care. It means I have to admit to myself that something is wrong and that maybe I don't know how to fix it right now and that it's affecting me way more than I wish it would. But once it's out, it's out, and I'm not letting it back in. 
Unloading everything that's been swirling around inside my head and heart generally really really exhausts and often discourages me, causing a bad/mad/sad day. To be honest, I don't deal with bad days well. I thrive on being someone who is fun to be around and can lift other people up when they're feeling low, which is hard to do when I'm feeling low myself. But I'm really working on accepting my bad days for what they are when they happen and trying to understand that they can serve a purpose if I let them. So when a bad day does happen I let myself take the time I need to be grumpy and mope around eating every cookie in sight, forcing a cheery disposition onto myself won't help me or anyone around me. It's okay to let yourself steep in those feelings for a day. This article from  Darling Magazine is one of my favorite pieces of writing about dealing with bad days. 
I am firm believer that good self-care cannot happen in total isolation. In order to take a step back and really see the situation for what it is I need people who have some degree of separation from whatever issue I'm dealing with and can talk me down from my emotionally exhausted, and often irrational, state. My parents are the people in my life who are always able to bring me back down to reality and put things into perspective. They remind me that I've made it through every bad day that I've ever had and will continue to, that everything seems a bit easier after a good night's sleep, and that I am the one in charge of my own emotions.  
Recharging seems to be what most people think of when they think of self-care, but I find it to be most beneficial once I've gone in and done the work to pull out all of the confusion and frustration inside of me. Depending on your personality and your situation, recharging can be a lot of different things. For me, as a strong introvert, it generally means some good alone time. Taking time to cook myself a good meal, taking a long shower, putting on my favorite pajamas, watching a film, or cleaning my room are where my instinct takes me. It is also sometimes retail therapy but I don't know if I should be encouraging that. Simple acts that help your mind and body get back to equilibrium and make you feel a bit stronger than before - more prepared to tackle the days ahead.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Something Different

What I Wore: Top - Urban Outfitters, Skirt - Loft, Shoes - Seychelles

It's a been a little while since I've posted about an outfit, but I wore a crop top today (for the first time in my life) and bought this new skirt so I thought it would be appropriate to share. Aside from the usual "I haven't been wearing anything very interesting" excuse I mainly just haven't been feeling too good about myself lately and really have not wanted to have my photo taken. Today was different. Today I felt good and wanted to share this outfit and a few thoughts I've been having.

I recently had a bad day. A day when I felt really really horrible about myself to the point where I was allowing it to ruin my entire day. After trying to spend the morning out with friends I ended up essentially locking myself up in my house to be by myself and get the negative thoughts out of my system. That day I was reminded of a previous day when one of my friends had been feeling a similar way. That day I had done my best to try and listen to her and tell her what she needed to hear, which I now realize is I what I needed to be hearing (and listening to) as well.

Here are the two things that I need to tell myself more often and actually listen to:
1. You are allowed to take up space. The more 'you' there is in the world the better because you are good and valuable and important.
2. Your body houses so many good things and allows you do so many good things. Focus on those things and not the way your arms looked in that photo or how it feels when your legs rub together under your dress. Nourish the good things your body allows you to do/think/feel.

I am realizing more and more that on my bad days I am not mad at my body but that I'm more mad at the way I think about my body. My body does everything I could ever want or need it to do, but I am in desperate need of a paradigm shift in my relationship with it. I am continuously learning how to inhabit, use, and honor the shape I was lucky enough to be born into.

And with that, I encourage to do something to honor yourself today (and tomorrow and the day after that).
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