Miscellaneous Collage of Memories, Quotes, Advice, & Photos from 2022!
1. Effort =/= Success
While I, like many, appreciate the idea that if you work hard enough at something, it is bound to go your way, that is simply not true with relationships (friendships or romantic). A relationship is a two-way street, & sometimes it's healthier to realize that the other person just doesn't feel the same way, have interest in being friends with you, or simply doesn't have the time.
2. Being honest with yourself is hard
This segways off the last one... but one of the greatest skills you can develop as a young adult is complete honesty with yourself. Wisdom is not assuming more or less than what is; not taking a small gesture as a romantic interest or blowing a comment out of proportion in your mind. This summer I read Till We Have Faces (Lewis) & one of the premises is that we cannot see the face of God until we have faces, in other words, until we see ourselves clearly. So often we convince ourselves of one reality becuase it's more appealing, but you will benefit so much from learning enough about yourself to tell when you are blindsiding yourself & seek to discern the truth.
3. It's not personal, it's just a phase
The tagline is meant to be humorous, but honestly for most people in their early to mid twenties, dating is more casual and less intentional. This may be because they are deciding what to do in the next step of life, focused on pursuing a career, getting over a past relationship, or simply more interested in experiences than commitment. Whatever it is, it helps to communicate clearly what you expect out of a relationship at this point in your life.
4. Keep growing
Some resources! Listen to podcasts by couples you admire, ask your parents questions, find role model couples a few years ahead and get their input, read JPII's Theology of the Body and other truly mind-opening works, and have conversations with people! What a beautiful point in life to grow and develop a deep and nuanced view of love.
5. Romanticize the mundane
I love mundane things. Reading with a tea. Walking on the beach. A chess game. Dancing while cooking. Listening to a song on repeat. I also love to romanticize things - maybe it's from planning couples shoots or maybe I'm just a natural romantic haha. I see a night sky and imagine stargazing, an open field inspires dreams of dancing, a glimpse of a rooftop bar turns to wine and cards over a sunset. Learn to balance romanticizing life and falling in love with the mundane and your life will never be boring!
1. Dance through life
A beautiful friend of mine shared a saying with me in Spanish (that I can't remember but...) the gist was that in the midst of everything, remember to dance through life.
2. No time is wasted
If life is fast-paced, you feel as if you are growing quickly and when life is slow, you can feel stuck in a rutt. But in all honesty, learning to adapt to every pace of life and learn and grow from it is a lifelong skill.
3. Never forget the power of agency
No matter what situation you are in, you have agency, or the ability to change something you do not like. Whether that is tangibly moving, changing jobs, or meeting new people... or changing your mindset and habits. No time is wasted if you make use of your time to grow, learn about yourself, and love others.
4. Most everything is temporary & optional
Yes, you may be building up to a career, but you also just started working or started graduate school, service, whatever you are doing. You are at the beginning and you're learning. If you have to pivot, at least you learned something you didn't want to do! Just don't get stuck, waiting, when you know something you want to try. Give it a shot! See what happens! If you hate it, remember it's temporary and optional ;)
5. FAQ: What're you doing with your life?
The #1 question you get asked as an early 20-year-old. You can either a) give the stilted, rehearsed and promising answer that isn't what you actually do, b) be honest and say you're figuring it out, or c) laugh and sidestep. I've appreciated those who are down to discuss the future with me in an optimistic, curious way. Remember: at this point in life, most everything is temporary and optional, and no time is wasted if you remember your agency. Set the groundwork for success by committing to growing in some way in every season, even in small ways, & pray for discernment in your particular gifts and how God wants you to use them.
6. Self discipline
Practice self discipline in your daily routine, workouts, dieting, in choosing little sacrifices throughout the day. You cannot underestimate how much it will improve your life to be in tune with and in control of your whims.
It seems that this event ought to be mentioned... I graduated this year!
1. Find your comforts
If you're moving around a lot, you need some things that you love to go back to. For me, that's Reese's cookies from Barnes & Noble, chai lattes, places with fireplaces (tricky to find but so worth it), jazz bars, certain books and people to call, & parks with water where I can hammock/read! I'd recommend finding things that help you settle, rather then say, a TV show you can bing-watch in each new place. You want to be present, but have some things that feel familiar :)
2. Make a transferable routine
Speaking of familiarity, having a morning routine is SUPER important for keeping peace while moving around! For me, that's my morning prayers, at least 30 minutes of reading in the morning, and a morning workout. Settle into yourself before jumping into the day.
3. Call while driving
When I'm driving, I usually spread my time between prayer, podcasts, music, thinking, and calling friends and family. Make a list of people you want to catch up with so when you are driving, you use your time well and stay connected!
I am in love with the idea of hosting, hospitality, inviting people over to experience life alongside them. If you have a space where you can host events, do it! The fatal flaw of hosting is that often we never do it because we want the event to be perfect, the house to be clean, etc. Instead, be open to decorating with friends, cooking with people, and setting up game nights on the fly and life becomes more fun!
5. Give yourself time to settle
Everyone travels with different styles. Personally, instead of building an exact itinerary & visiting every single sight, I would recommend settling in one place and finding the local recommendations, meeting people, and giving yourself room to be spontaneous! As they say in Italy, Dolce far niente, enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing.
Favorite Documentary Photo of the Year
Walking to Prem Dan, where I volunteered with the Sisters of Charity on my mission trip in India, we crossed the railroad tracks, which were lined with slums. Kids would wave, "hello!" "how are you!" and when you waved back, they would approach, asking for photos when they saw my camera. I took too much pleasure in their smiles as I showed them pictures of their serious faces, old beyond their years.
1. What have you learned about yourself that you'll take into 2023 or not?
Greatttt question... I've learned that my competitiveness often stems from pride and requires a careful hand. I LOVE competition & have been learning to balance that with just enjoying a game. I have a newfound appreciation for reading that I am planning to take into 2023. Read many books, often, & regularly. I've learned that to manage my mind & stress I have to pause several times a day, and that setting the tone for the day begins the moment you wake up.
2. Who are your creative inspirations?
This is so interesting! I've actually never taken an art class so I don't know a ton about famous artists, although I love going to art museums and galleries! Monet is one of my favorites, his "Water Lilies." My dad and brother's architecture sketches. Evie Rupp is one of my favorite wedding photographers (The Herat & Hustle University). Peter Kreeft is an inspiration for my love of philosophy, thought, & writing.
3. Why photography?
This question cracked me up! Why photography over another medium of art? Or over anything else? Well... on one hand I love it. I love the entire process - from seeing something beautiful in an interaction or moment, to capturing it quickly at the best angle to represent or highlight its beauty, to collecting the images all together and coloring, altering, adjusting them to create a story with each photo and with the gallery as a whole. I love that a photo of a person in particular captures their soul. You can see their body language, eyes, expression, lines, and depth.
4. Favorite type of photoshoot?
Honestly, I love outdoor adventurous couples photoshoots! Let's hike up a mountain or jump in the water! If we're running around, exploring, and making it up as we go, that's when my creative juices get going and we'll have a blast!
5. What was your best conversation this year?
This is so hard... I am a conversation fanatic. Some highlights - one of my best friends making me process with her. Debates are some of my favorite conversations, and I was blessed with many this year. A middle schooler described to me how she likes to examine people she knows as if she was meeting them again for the first time, giving them the chance for a second first impression. I learned how to have confrontational conversations through some difficult experiences.
6. Stuck on an Island with 3 books, what do you choose?
1. Emma by Jane Austen (great for self-reflection and humor, not just because we share the name!)
2. Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis (favorite book from this year)
3. Lord of the Rings trilogy (entertaining, fantasy, plenty to contemplate)
**excluding Bible of course