Thought Collective #5- How I Feel About Social Media

It’s not secret that I have been trying to spend more time away from my phone for the last few months. I even wrote a whole post about going off the grid (sort of) for a week, and that experiment was really eye opening for me.

Since then, I have really been paying attention to the way I use social media and how much of my time I spend on it.

Before I get into the darker side of the internet, I want to acknowledge some of the good that is has brought me! Social media is a wonderful tool, one that I am so grateful for.

Because of it, I…

  • found a community of like-minded readers
  • made amazing friendships
  • discovered new passions
  • became informed on topics that I otherwise would not have ever heard of

I would not take back any of these things that social media has given me.

However, I think it’s also equally as important to talk about the bad, too. We all know that social media affects us tremendously. It has been the cause of anxiety and depression for me, given me FOMO, triggered unhealthy perceptions of my body, and overall just helps me waste time.

I think that what I’ve realized about social media is that you need to remember that it is a tool. You are supposed to be in control of it, not the other way around.

I am much more conscious of how I use social media now. I use it for interaction with friends and fellow readers. I use it to share parts of my day that I think others will be interested in. I use it to stay informed and to inform others. I use it for inspiration. And that’s it.

I don’t use it for mindless entertainment the way I used to. I don’t use it to compare myself to others. I don’t use it to follow petty drama.

And I have truly seen a huge improvement in my mood.

I thought that I would share some things that I did that really helped me break my social media addiction of mindless scrolling.

  1. Don’t be afraid to unfollow: I know that it may seem harsh to unfollow someone, but I think if you are not benefitting from their content, you don’t enjoy their content, or you’re just not interested in it, you should not feel guilty for unfollowing. You are allowed to curate your space for yourself! I regularly go through my following lists on various social media sites and unfollow accounts that don’t align with my values. When I do scroll through my feeds, I only see content that I am genuinely interested in!
  2. Set limits: When I first began shortening my time online, I found it super helpful to implement the downtime feature on my iPhone. From 9:30 pm to 8:00 am, I set a control that blocked all of my apps! I no longer use it now, but I conditioned myself not to go on my phone for the first hour after waking up, and I try to get off of it at least 30 minutes before I go to bed. There are other ways to set limits, too. You can allow yourself to go on social media for one hour a day. Or you can delete the apps on your phone and only check it on your desktop. Or you can schedule specific times throughout your day that you will check it. Figure out what works best for you!
  3. Decide what you want to use and figure out your why: Having a ‘why’ for spending less time on social media is really effective. What can you accomplish in the 5 hours that you don’t spend on your phone? Maybe you can pick up a new hobby. Maybe you can improve a skill or learn something new. Maybe you can use that time for self care or to spend time with your family! You don’t realize just how much time you are spending on social media if you don’t pay active attention to it. It also helps to know which apps you actually want to use. For instance, I spend much more time on Instagram than Twitter now, and I deleted TikTok entirely a few months ago. I only use Snapchat for sending videos/photos to friends, but I otherwise don’t go on it. Again, decide what works for you!

How do you feel about social media? It’s definitely one of those things that’s in the gray area. It’s neither good nor bad. Again, I think it all depends on how you use it!

I hope this post was helpful, though, and that you took something away from it! I would love to know what you think.

Thought Collective #4- On Becoming a Minimalist

I first heard of minimalism back in high school, and I was immediately drawn to it. I watched the Minimalism documentary, and I thought this is what I want my life to look like.

So I decluttered my space, but then carried on about my life. Weeks went by, then months and years. Every now and then I would go through the process of cleaning, organizing, throwing away.

It was a cycle that I kept going back into, but the habits of minimalism never really stuck.

It wasn’t until recently, though, I started listening to a few different podcasts, watching youtube videos, and had a huge mindset shift that I finally started to see the benefits.

Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps you simplify your life—this includes your mental and emotional life, too—in order to live a more meaningful and intentional life. I realized that I don’t care about shopping, I don’t need to own a lot of things, I am happy when I’m doing rather than buying.

I thought that I would take you through my 4-step process/journey of transitioning into this lifestyle, and maybe some of these tips will be useful for you, too!

  1. Prioritize: The first thing I did was made a list of my priorities. For me, this was school, writing, family/friends, paying off student debt, and health. Obviously everyone’s priorities are different, but make a list of 3-5 priorities in your life, and try to keep these in mind with everything else you do. You don’t want to have too many priorities because that will just make things overwhelming and you won’t be able to dedicate the same amount of time to all. The minimalists talk a lot about their 5 core values, and that might be a helpful place to start!
  2. Declutter: Obviously, a big part of minimalism is getting rid of that excess stuff you have lying around your house. Take your time with this process, and really think about what you’re keeping and what you’re not. I even recommend doing a second or third sweep of your stuff. Sometimes you come back to something and realize you don’t actually need it, you were just keeping it around for sentimentality. Aside from your physical space, there are also other things that you may want to declutter in your life- your relationships (cut out the toxic ones), your digital space (clear out your files, unfollow people on social media who don’t add value to your life), and your mind (I’ve incorporated meditation into my life, which has helped me stay in the present moment. It really keeps me grounded and my mind uncluttered).
  3. Change your Habits: Decluttering is important, but it doesn’t mean anything if you keep buying more stuff, keep creating more waste. Therefore, once you have started with a fresh, clear space, work on your habits so that you don’t go back to how you were living before. For example, I have been creating a budget for myself every month, and I try to stick to it as closely as possible. I just started this a couple of months ago, so there was quite a bit of trial and error involved in determining how much I spend in the beginning. Now, though, I’m pretty good at sticking to it! Also, before I buy anything new, I write it down in a wishlist I keep on my phone. I wait at least 2 days (if it’s a big purchase, I give it a week or more) before deciding if I really need it or not. This has stopped me from impulse buying a LOT.
  4. Put It to Action: Now that you’ve given yourself this blank slate, use it to your advantage! Go back to your priorities and start centering your days around them! For instance, I like to write. All I need for that is my laptop or a pen and paper. Now that I’m devoting less time to cleaning and organizing my stuff (because there’s less of it), I have more time to write! I also have more time to spend with my friends, and I’m focusing on the things that really bring me joy. I’ve honestly found a freedom in owning less and not wanting to buy more. I feel like a lot of weight has been lifted off of me.

Some resources that helped me:

  • The Minimalists: They have a podcast, a documentary, and a website that are all full of great information! I am currently going through their podcast, starting from their first episode, and I’m loving it!
  • Millennial Minimalists Podcast: I recommended this podcast in my last favorites post, but I just wanted to include it again because I’m really enjoying it!
  • Ashlynne Eaton: This Youtube channel is so cozy and nice to watch! Ashlynne also gives some really great advice, so if you are someone who prefers visuals, this is the place for you!

There’s obviously so much more I could say on this topic, and I really only covered the bare minimum here, but I think it’s a good, simplified place to start!

What are your thoughts on living a more minimalistic lifestyle? Have you tried it?

Thought Collective #3 – Being a Female College Student & Campus Safety.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another post in my Thought Collective series! A few weeks back I talked about my high school experience and how that affected my mental health. Today I want to talk about what it’s like being a woman in college.

First off, this post is sponsored by Bond*. This is a personal safety app that I think everyone should have, but it is especially vital for college students.

*But all opinions are my own.
**Trigger Warnings for rape/murder/kidnapping/assault

Before I tell you about the app, let me give you some background:

As a freshman in college, I was always the safe one, the cautious one, the ‘mom’ friend, if you will. My friends on the other hand? Not so much. They went out to parties with their phones at 20%, usually not planning ahead on how they’ll get home, etc.

This terrified me. They always relied on me to make sure they were taken care of and got home safe. Which I didn’t mind, of course, as I would have done it any way.

But the world is a pretty scary place, especially as a woman. There have been thousands of stories of women being harassed, attacked, kidnapped, etc. right on the street, with no one helping them. I often had to walk home alone after a late-night class, or even just to my car in a parking lot. Every person becomes a suspect when you’re a vulnerable person walking alone at night. It’s a sad reality that we’re unforunately faced with.

During my freshman year, a report also came out about a woman being kidnapped and murdered by a man who claimed to be her Uber driver. I have never forgotten about that.

There have been reports of break-ins in my area, recently, and just yesterday, a strange person had been knocking on our door, which was frightening. My friend’s TikTok feeds have even been flooded with safety tips for girls (many of them about walking alone at night). Girls are always thinking of the fastest exit in every situation, will carry their keys between their fingers, or have pepper spray at their side.

I can talk on and on about the various situations that girls specifically are faced with when going out of the house that never even cross the minds of men.

So let me now tell you about Bond. Like I mentioned, this is a personal security app that has so many amazing features.

I go on frequent long walks/runs around my neighborhood or on the beach (which you may have seen on my Instagram), and now whenever I do that, I turn on the “track me on the go” setting. This makes sure that my location is being tracked until I reach my destination. If I ever feel like I’m in a dangerous situation, I even put on the “ready an agent” feature, which will signal an agent if the situation escalates and I’m in need of assistance. These agents are ready 24/7, so you never have to worry about being alone.

I think my favorite part about it is that it’s not just made for you. You can connect all of your friends and family members, too. I personally created a group with my housemates so that we always know where each person is.

In the free version, you have access to the location services, dial 911, and siren features. You can get a free 3 day trial for the app, and after that it’s only $4.99 a month to unlock the rest of the features I talked about. That is such a low cost for all that it provides, in my opinion!

If you want to give it a try, click this link to read more and download it for yourself! Campus safety is of a huge importance to me, so I hope that this is something you look into.

I hope you all have a great week and I’ll talk to you soon!

#personalsafetyforall #collegesafety #campussafety #staysafe #ad

Thought Collective #2: Let’s Chat About School.

I have always loved learning. As a child, I would look forward to the start of a new school year, more than any other kid. I couldn’t wait to be back in the classroom. I was also very independent, and I had so many different interests. In fact, I would become so enthralled by a topic that I would spend hours on my own researching everything about it. I would read books, watch Youtube videos, scroll through hundreds of websites.

My friends, family, friends of family, and teachers all saw my thirst for knowledge, and I was praised for it. I still am, to be quite honest. And I like that feeling. But at some point in my school career, my own, internal desire for more knowledge turned into expectations from others and a fear of failure or not being good enough. I felt so weighed down by the assumptions people had of me, by the presumptions that were place on me. So much so that eventually I cracked. I let my perfect exterior break, piece by piece, until I no longer knew who I was. I stopped caring about education.

In high school, I reached an all time low in terms of education. Learning became something that I was excited about to something I dreaded. I was not interested in anything I was being taught. I rarely studied, and when I did, I would have breakdowns at least weekly because I felt like it wasn’t getting through to me. Part of this was the environment of my school. I got accepted into a prestigious high school, and I was initially excited to go.

Unfortunately, my experience there was not good. The teachers expected a lot from us, and we were constantly made to feel like we had to be the best, and anything lower was not okay. The students all competed with each other and every conversation was centered around grades, studying, and anything related to school. I was looked down upon when I told people I was going to study communication in college rather than something traditional like medicine, business, or law.

To sum up, it was toxic.

Fast forward to the present. I just started my junior year of college this week. I told myself I would start fresh in college. I stopped trying to please others, and I was looking forward to studying communication. My love for learning returned.

Some of my negative habits and mindsets from high school are still with me (studying for way longer than necessary, getting upset when I get anything lower than an A+, etc.).

But my state of mind is so different now.

I just want you to know that if you feel like you aren’t doing well in school, or you’re currently hating what you’re learning, that can change! Don’t let the school system make you hate or fear learning. Because you should always want to learn!! Knowledge is such an incredible and powerful tool that can make you unstoppable!

And there are so many forms of knowledge- not everything is about being book smart! There are also so many ways to get an education that don’t require going to school. Reading, youtube videos, talking to your relatives and asking them questions, etc.

The moral of the story: learning is FUN!

I know this post is very ramble-y and doesn’t flow too well, but I hope some of you can relate to parts of this story! I want to hear about your experiences in school, and any thoughts you have about it!

Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!

Thought Collective #1 – Getting Out of a Slump

I have been thinking a lot about my content online recently and what value my posts serve. Not just on this blog, but on Instagram and Twitter as well. I want my platforms to provide value of some kind and be a space that I am proud of.

In full transparency, I had an entirely different post planned to go up today, but I felt like it was so meaningless and I didn’t feel confident in posting it. Which is sort of where this post idea came from.

I feel like I have been writing a lot of posts this year where my heart is not entirely in them, but I knew that other people would be interested in them or they followed some trend, so I wrote them anyway. And that put me in a big rut. I haven’t been feeling motivated or inspired at all. There were even a few days where I considered just deleting my blog entirely.

But then I spent some time thinking it over and reminding myself why I started this blog. It is a creative outlet. A place to express myself. A safe space to share my thoughts and find others with similar interests. And I don’t want to lose that.

Essay GIF - Find on GIFER

However, I do want to start sharing more of my thoughts on here—my ramblings, the things that I am passionate about.

This is how the thought collective was born. This is a new series I’m doing, probably about once a month (maybe more, maybe less), where I just write about whatever topic is on my mind that week.

I hope that at least some of you will find this interesting or useful! Don’t worry, though, my book content is not going anywhere! I just need a bit of a bigger space here. And if there’s any topic you want me to write about, please feel free to comment or message me on any of my social media accounts :)


Now, onto the topic of today’s post- pulling yourself out of a slump!

During quarantine, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do, do, do. I thought to myself that if I have all of this time at home, I have to use it to accomplish everything and anything I ever wanted to do but kept putting off.

At first, this was great. I worked on a new novel, I started research for my undergrad thesis, I read more than ever before. On top of this, I started running and working out daily, baking, and taking on other projects (an internship for one).

This was a really toxic mindset, though. I didn’t realize it until a few weeks ago, when I tried to have a relaxing Sunday, but all I could think about were the tasks I had on my to-do list. I wasn’t enjoying reading anymore because it felt like I was only doing it to be ‘productive’, I couldn’t sit still long enough to watch a movie or even tv show because my mind was on other things, and I was constantly exhausted.

I’ve finally burnt myself out. Since the first of August, I have had no desire to wake up in the mornings and work on any of the goals I had set for myself. I would wake up, try to be productive, and then end up scrolling through social media or watching Youtube videos for hours.

I am slowly working my way out of this creative (& life) slump, which I talked a bit about on Instagram. There, I also shared some of the ways that I get myself out of this sort of feeling, so I’m going to elaborate more on those now!

Take a Break

The first thing to do is to give yourself a break. It was so hard for myself to accept that this was what I needed, if I’m being honest. I’m awful at taking breaks, and I can’t do it for very long. But this time around, I took a week-long break. That is probably the longest I’ve gone without being productive in years.

Your body needs time to rest and recover, though. And it’s so important! Not only is it a good time to refresh your mind and maybe consume some content that inspires you, but it can also improve your physical well-being, too.

**By the way—don’t wait until you’ve burned yourself out to take a pause. It is good to do so often!!

Change Your Routines

Change can be scary. But it is oftentimes exactly what we need. I tried out a new morning routine in July which involved me waking up extremely early and getting work done from the minute I got up until about noon. I quickly realized that this did not work for me at all.

So, I’ve reinvented my routine, and I made it much more suitable to my needs. I now get to sleep in more, I get a bit of work done, but I also have a slow, peaceful morning. And it is so nice! I can definitely do an entire post about my morning routine, as well, because it is something that I find is essential to a productive day!

Create Freely

One thing that I love doing when I’m in a rut is allow myself to create… ANYTHING. This is something I do just for me. I want to talk more about this in a future thought collective post, but I’ve realized that with having any sort of social media platform, there is a pressure to post everything you do. I share a lot of my days online through my Instagram stories, and I like creating things to share with others. However, you don’t have to post everything you create. Some things can (and should) be just for you!

I like to do this by painting or art journaling. Most of the time, the things I create are imperfect. They are messy. But they make me happy! That is all that is important here. Allow yourself to do something without the fear of failure or the pressure of critique’s from others! It is such a therapeutic thing to do. Trust me!

Write Out Your Thoughts/Feelings

The next step for me is journaling. Now, I try to journal everyday, but I usually just do morning pages where I write out anything that comes to my mind or I talk about my previous day, just to get my creative juices flowing.

But, when I’m in a rut, I like to specifically write about why I’m feeling the way I am. This journaling is much more intentional, and it takes more time, but it can really help you figure out the root of your slump.

Here are some prompts/questions to get you started:

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What is currently upsetting me?
  • What are three things I am grateful for?
  • What distractions are hindering my productivity and how can I eliminate them?
  • What does my dream life look like?

Revisit & Revise Your Goals

Finally, I think frequently reading over your goals can be super motivating! However, sometimes you may look at them and realize that they are no longer things you want to focus on right now. And that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to take off some of your goals or revise them to better fit your current needs.

I’m very competitive with myself, so I push myself to achieve goals even if I no longer care about them, which just isn’t productive. I’m learning to be okay with letting go of my goals, even if I don’t always achieve them! This is such a vital lesson to learn.

The most important point of reworking your goals is making sure you are making them realistic but challenging. And prioritize the things that are most important to you!

That is all I have for you guys today! I know this was a long and rambly post, but I hope you got something good out of it. If you have any other tips for getting out a rut, feel free to share them in the comments!

Also, remember that what works for me may not work for you! It’s all about trial and error because everyone has different experiences. If you do try any of these, let me know how they went :)

I’ll see you all on Thursday (with another post I am very excited about)!

Writer’s Block and Finding Inspiration- A Discussion // Blogmas Day 20

Inspiration. This is something I struggle with constantly. Where does it come from and how do I keep it?

I haven’t exactly found the answer to this yet.

Personally, I deal with writer’s block constantly, and I am always looking for new sources of inspiration. As someone who loves to write, I find this to be incredibly frustrating. When looking at writers I look up to, it seems as though they are able to constantly produce content and never burn out.

I, on the other hand, go through periods where I can write for hours everyday, and then I’ll go weeks without writing at all. I hate the inconsistence, but I haven’t been able to commit to a daily schedule. Life and other commitments just get in the way sometimes.

So, how do you handle this?

Remember that it’s ok to take a break

Breaks are necessary. It’s important not to overwork yourself because you’ll end up burned out really quickly. I do not believe that a writer must write everyday. Sure, it definitely helps. But as long as you are practicing your craft often enough, at least 4-5 times a week, then you are fine. I’ve definitely even had extended periods where I didn’t write outside of school because I just couldn’t.

That doesn’t mean I’m not a writer. Exhaustion will not produce your best work. So take a nap, meditate, go for a run, etc. Writing can be done at any time.

…But don’t take too long

Yes, it is important to take a break sometimes, but don’t use it as an excuse for not writing. I am definitely guilty of this. I tell myself that I need a break or I need some time to rest, and then I never end up writing.

Sometimes you just need to force yourself to pick up that pen and paper. You don’t always need INSPIRATION necessarily, you just need MOTIVATION.

Usually the hardest part of doing anything is actually starting. If you have been dealing with “writer’s block” for a while now, then I want you to go and pick up a pen/pencil/marker/crayon/whatever and just w r i t e.

Let out whatever it is you’ve been holding in. Yes, you. Right now.

You might find that once you start, you won’t be able to stop, and you’ll forget why you were struggling so much before.

Remind yourself why you love it

Why are you writing to begin with? Writing is hard, and can be very painful at times. But if you’re doing it because it’s something you love to do, then you can push through the unbearable parts.

Just taking the time to remind yourself of this can be very beneficial. It can be the extra push you need.

Where I get inspiration:

My inspiration comes from a variety of sources, and it usually changes every time I write. But, here is a list of common places I get it from because I feel like it could be very useful

  • past poems/stories i’ve written
  • other poets
  • lines from books
  • song lyrics (this is a big one)
  • conversations i overhear
  • life experiences
  • pictures
  • dictionary- finding synonyms of random words (sounds strange but works)
  • movies
  • going outside for fresh air

I am a firm believer that consuming media allows you to create better. You learn from others, and you also develop your own style. You find what you like, as well as what you don’t, and use that to make your own art.

chat with me

Where do you get inspiration? Leave me a comment letting me know down below! I love to hear the process that other writer’s go through :)

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A Look Back on My First Semester of College // Blogmas Day 17

Tomorrow is my last final for my first semester of college, and then I will be going home for the winter season! I can not wait for a break, finals KILLED ME.

But, today I want to reflect on how my first semester went, and how I feel about where I am right now :)

So, the first week was sort of rough for me. I actually wrote a post about my first week and how unhappy I was. I think the change was just bigger than I expected it to be, combined with the heat and not having air conditioning, and getting a little sick towards the end made me feel really cranky and out of place. I missed home and the familiarity of seeing my friends everyday. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, and I just wanted to move onto the part where I have close friends.

Luckily, things have definitely looked up for me! I joined a few clubs on campus, got to know some amazing people, and I enjoyed all of my classes.

I definitely learned so much this semester- not just school wise, but also about myself.

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Some highs from the past few months:

  • Living on my own and having independence
  • Read my poetry out loud for an audience for the first time ever
  • Got straight As on my midterms!
  • (I think) I got straight As on my finals (grade aren’t out yet)
  • Made a ton of new friends
  • Had enough time to participate in NaNo this year (unsuccessfully, but still)
  • Went to a book signing
  • Made so many new online connections

The last two weeks have been finals, so I’ve been working really hard, and it’s been stressful.

But, I am super pleased with how my first semester of college went, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in the future :)

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How Do I Know That I’m Doing the Right Thing?

In just a few short weeks, I will be starting my first semester of college. I have never been more excited to explore and live life on my own in a new place. But, I still have my doubts sometimes.

I have doubts about my major and my future career choice. How do I know that the major I chose is the right one for me? Am I following the right path? Will I be happy with a career in this field?

Deciding your future can be so so terrifying. I know it was for me. I am a person with many different interests. I want to explore every single major that my school offers, so how was I supposed to narrow it down to just one? I love to write and read, so maybe English? But I am also so interested in the human mind. Maybe I’ll go with psychology. Buuuutt, I also think I would enjoy political science. I have never just been passionate about one thing- I have always been fascinated by the entire world. It’s hard to have to eliminate many of my interests just so that I can focus on one, maybe two if I double major.

Luckily, the one thing that I haven’t had any doubts about is my school- I am so excited to be attending such a beautiful campus surrounded by some really amazing people. I fell in love with the campus the first time I set foot there, and I knew it was the place for me. Plus, it is so close to the beach, which is my favorite place in the world. It’s such a relief knowing that I look forward to going to school next year, which means that I have made at least one right decision when it comes to deciding my future.

I realized I shouldn’t doubt myself so much. I know who I am and I know what I like. As long as I’m always working hard towards my goals, I know I will be okay. Besides, if I really don’t enjoy the classes I’m taking, I can always switch my major.

The future is a scary place. Venturing into the unknown always is. But follow your heart and it will lead you on the right path.

Good luck with your future.

Xo, Jess

Journal Entries About Writing

the thing about writing is that sometimes you feel as though you have nothing to write. you think your words are not worthy enough to be put on paper. but writing is for you. it does not need to meet anyone’s standards. all that you need is a pen and a thought. we all have plenty of those. the rest will follow naturally.

when i write, i can feel all the energy inside me flowing. i feel powerful, indestructible.  words are a vital part of my existence. i would be incredibly lost without them. there’s something inside me that draws me to this art form constantly. this need i have for writing is inescapable.

put the pen to the edge of the paper, my dear, and let the words flow out of you. they don’t need to be perfect, but they still deserve to be said.

 

xo, jessica

Change | Journal Excerpts

Change has always been a good thing to me. I have embraced it with open arms every time. I can not even imagine a life where I am stuck with the same routine day after day. I do not want to sit behind a desk and watch my life pass me by. I want a career where I can explore different paths daily and have new adventures. I’m not sure where life will take me just yet, but I hope that it will bring me to change. Because change is the only constant that I want in my life.

//

I keep telling myself that my life won’t really start until I’m older. When I have a real job, and I’m living on my own. But life is short. And I don’t know how long I’ve got. So what am I waiting for? 17 years of precious time have gone by. It is time to go out and make something of myself. Live a little more. While I still can.

//

Her eyes lit up when she talked about it. She was so passionate about the art she created, and she couldn’t get her mind off of it. The happiness she felt when a paintbrush was in her hand was enough to make anyone smile.

– jess