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 #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.

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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)!

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 to Stay Organized in School

*This post contains a promotion for the Lightspeed Planner, but all opinions are my own.

I am HUGE on organization. I keep all of my stuff in order, and I work really hard to create systems for myself to keep my papers together.

In college, you don’t get a lot of space to keep all of your papers/textbooks for school (if you dorm), and you don’t have anyone around to tell you to keep your things neat.

I have a few tips here to help you stay organized for the rest of the semester (and hopefully the rest of your school career), which I hope you find helpful.

Use a Planner

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Using a planner is truly vital- especially in college. If you don’t write down all of your assignments, you’re going to lose track of what you have to do. Planners are so beneficial, and you can schedule out time for all of your activities. They are a great visual to utilize, and I would be so lost without mine.

Professors (almost always) give you a syllabi with all of the assignments for the semester listed on them with the due dates, so you can go ahead and mark the calendar right away. This way you won’t forget about something, especially if the Professor doesn’t talk about it in class.

Also, with a planner, you can evenly spread your time out between school, work, friends, and other obligations. You can make sure you have an even balance of everything, and see how much time you spend on each activity.

Planners are just life changing.

Buy a File Folder/Accordion Folder

I can not explain to you how useful having an accordion folder has been for me. I write so many essays and take so many exams. Eventually I don’t need them anymore for the current class, but they may be useful again for either the final exam, or a future class. I don’t want to get rid of all of the notes I have, so I put them all in accordion folders and separate them by class.

My plan right now is to have a new one for each semester, so that way I can easily find anything I’m looking for. You really don’t know when those notes will come in handy again. Obviously, there are many things I throw out and don’t keep, but I like to keep the big assignments or important works that I might be thankful for at a later time.

Pack Your Bag Ahead of Time

The night before every weekday, I pack my backpack. This is extremely important to me, because I tend to get very stressed out in the mornings, especially when I give myself some extra time to sleep in. If I put the things I need in my bag in the morning, I tend to forget things or bring things I don’t need.

Doing it the night before just helps to eliminate some stress!

Make To-Do Lists

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I have been using the Lightspeed Planner for my daily to-do lists, and I am LOVING it. It makes everything so simple and helps you to prioritize your important tasks. It contains around 280 undated pages that are all the same:

  • Must Do
  • Should Do
  • Could Do

It helps you to identify your three main objectives for the day, and will ensure you stay on track. I think overwhelming yourself with too many tasks makes everything very overwhelming and stressful. By just focusing on 3 things a day (you can always write multiple things in each box if you really need), you can fully dedicate yourself to those three things.

At the bottom, there is also a notes section, as well as a progress tracker. You can decide how productive you were for the day, which is really motivating for me.

Overall, using to-do lists really inspires you, and checking off every box on the list is a very great feeling.

Set Time to Clean

Dedicate a specific day/time to cleaning. The days go by so quickly, and sometimes it feels as though you just cleaned your room yesterday, but really it’s been almost two weeks. You really don’t realize how fast it goes by.

I usually dedicate Thursdays to cleaning because it tends to be my lightest day of workload. I have enough time in between my two classes to Swiffer my floor, dust my furniture, organize my files, and clean out my fridge. After class, I usually do my laundry, and then I have the rest of the day to do whatever else I want/need to do.

If I didn’t specifically set this time, I probably wouldn’t dust my room very often, and it would get messy very quickly.

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Please let me know if you try out any of these tips, or if you use them already! Comment some of your organization tips, too. I can always use some more suggestions.

Also, be sure to check out the Lightspeed Planner! I highly recommend it :)

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My NaNoWriMo 2018 plans // pt. 2

Hello everyone! This is the second part of my NaNoWriMo 2018 series, so if you haven’t read the first one you can click here to do that. In the first part, I talked about my goals for prepping before NaNo, and I have definitely been working on those. They are not completely done yet, but I still have a week of October left, so I know I will get them all done before November begins.

In this post, I want to talk a bit about my outlining process and explain what my novel is about!

I am calling it “Project X” for now, because it does not have an official title yet. From now on, that is what I will be referring to it as! Some of you may remember that over the summer I was working on a writing project with the same name. That project sort of turned into this one, so that’s why I am keeping the name. I combined some ideas into one, but the concept as a whole is brand new.

What is it about?

The story follows Summer as she goes to visit her father in New Jersey for the months before she begins her freshman year of college. Her father has a new girlfriend, she starts a new job, and she’s going to be moving to a new state soon. All of these changes are happening way too fast for her. Until one day she runs into Noah and starts to fall for him. He might be the only thing keeping her from reaching her breaking point. However, they’re both hiding something from each other. Can a relationship still form despite the secrets? Or will it end in disaster for both of them?

The story is still forming and a lot can change! However, this is the main gist of it. It is definitely going to be more of a character driven story, and I hope to make the reader feel very connected to at least one person. Their personalities are all so different, and they each go through a lot of growth throughout the book. Let me know what you think of it :)

Outlining Process

Outlining is so much fun for me, but it takes a long time and requires a lot of work. I have been using a notebook to outline, because I like to have a physical form of the story- it feels more personal and almost like a work of art to me.

I started with a short summary, and then created pages for my main characters. This took a lot of time, because each character is so unique and requires my full attention. I’m glad I took the time for this though, because I know my characters so well now and how they will react in different situations. It will be a lot easier to write them because of this.

I then decided about how many chapters I wanted the story to be, and I wrote out different plot points and events that I want to occur on post-it notes. This is very helpful because I can stick them on different pages, but move them around if necessary. Starting with the first chapter, I wrote out some bullet points of what would happen in each chapter. I am almost midway through at this point (I plan to have 28 chapters), so I just have a little bit more work to do.

It’s a little hard to describe how I outline through words, it would be much easier to talk about in video form, so I suggest checking out some authors on Youtube who talk about how they outline!

The story is really starting to come together, and I am excited to see where it goes, once I actually begin writing!

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Are any of you participating in NaNo this year? Let me know what kind of story you’re writing down in the comments (if you feel comfortable). Good luck!

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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

Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

You were one of the craziest years of my life. So much had happened, both good and bad. I went through a lot. I’ve also grown so much.

So I just want to say thank you.

Thank you for teaching me to give it all I’ve got if I want to accomplish my dreams. Thank you for teaching me to believe in myself and in my work. Thank you for teaching me to slow down, take a deep breath, and take one step at a time. Thank you for bringing the most amazing people into my life. Thank you for giving me so many amazing opportunities. Thank you for showing me the importance of hard work.

Looking back at my journal, I can see that I really focused on myself this year. I wanted a chance to reinvent myself and feel like me again. However, I also lost myself towards the end of the year. I was in a strange and unfamiliar place that I am only starting to come out of now.

This year, I pierced my ear again, read more than ever before, went on a weeklong vacation with my family (over 20 of us), applied to colleges, got my first (and second) job, went camping, started my senior year of high school, got into 9 colleges, and became an adult (!!).

I am finally in a happy place in my life. I want to continue down this road, and make 2018 even more memorable than 2017.

dear 2018,

I promise to make you wonderful.

First Q&A!

A few weeks ago I asked you all to ask me some questions for a Q&A, and now I’m here to answer them!

What book(s) made a huge impact on you as a kid and now?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was The Hunger Games. I was obsessed with it and it was one of the first books that I actually couldn’t wait to get my hands on. I was in 6th or 7th grade when I read it, but I think it would be so interesting to re-read it and see if my opinion has changed at all.

Now, there are way too many books that have had an impact on me. To name a few- To Kill A Mockingbird, The Hate U Give, The Princess Saves Herself in This One.

Has a book ever derailed you and completely changed the course of your life?

No, a book has never completely changed my life. There are definitely books that have changed my mindset or made me see things from a new perspective, but not enough to change my life around.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I am planning on going to college to be a public relations major, so I would like to be something under that field. Possible a publicist or a public relations manager. I also hope to be an author, which would be my ultimate goal in life.

Do you collect anything? If so, what?

I don’t collect anything now, unless books count. When I was younger, I used to collect many random things- rocks, nail polish, etc.

What is your favorite poem and favorite form and why!

I have so many favorite poems. There are honestly too many to choose. One of them is haiku #2 from Madisen Kuhn’s book “Eighteen Years”. I also really love poems by Amanda Lovelace.

I don’t have a favorite poetry form though. I like any style, as long as it is well written. What I look for in poetry is just emotion and an ability to relate to the subject.

If you’d like to answer any of these questions in the comments, feel free to do so! I’d love o know your answers.

Also, I hope you all had a very merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and an amazing holiday season!

See you soon.

xo, jessica

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

Current Thoughts About the Book Community

When I was in middle school (and even younger than that) I went to the library or bookstore at least weekly, and I picked up tons of books. I chose books simply based on the cover and the synopsis- especially the synopsis. The more involved I become in the book community, the more I find myself doing less of that.

I now tend to pick up books based on what other people think of them without even forming my own opinions or considering if I will like the book or not. I can’t even tell you how many books I bought just because I heard people in the book community like them. I don’t even know what half of the books I buy are about at this point!

I began reading fantasy books more and more often, which I don’t even like. I’m more of a contemporary and mystery/paranormal reader. Sure, there were a few fantasy books I enjoyed reading, but there were so many that I forced myself to read just so I could be part of the loop.

Sometimes I feel like I’m going to be shamed for not reading or not enjoying something that was incredibly hyped by everyone. I also don’t want to attend any book events because I know that there are a TON of books I haven’t read and I don’t want people to think I don’t belong there.

Basically, the point of this post is to say that I want to start reading for myself again. I don’t want to fall out of love with reading because I don’t enjoy what I pick up. I also want to say that this is a criticism of myself, not the book community. There are so many wonderful people and the place is so welcoming. This is just how I am currently feeling!

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Do any of you feel the same way or am I alone in this one? Have you picked up any books solely because of the book community, without even knowing what it’s about?

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