Advice

Basic Finance Tips

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and felt that now more than ever, it was so important to share what I’ve learned about finances over the years! I’ve been running my own business for a decade now, without a business degree, and without any outside financial help. It certainly hasn’t been easy navigating the waters alone, but by educating myself, I’ve been able to really understand and appreciate all things finance. I wanted to share some basic finance tips that will hopefully help you on your financial journey. I am still by no means an expert, and I do recommend consulting with a trustworthy accountant regarding any big finance decisions. This post is really just scratching the surface and an intro to finances for the modern day woman! My hope is that it will empower you to build a strong financial foundation for your future. Basic Finance Tips Budgets Everyones budget is different depending on their situation. There is no one size fits all. A popular budget that many people use as a guide is called the 50/30/20 budget. Basically you take 50% of your post tax income and put it towards the essentials; housing/rent, food, transportation, utilities, healthcare and minimum debt payments. You take 30% of your post tax income and put it toward non-essentials such as clothing and travel. Then you take 20% of your post tax income and put it toward your savings account, retirement and investment funds. Another popular “rule of thumb” is to never spend more than 30% of your pre tax income on housing/rent. I’ll be sharing my tips on how to buy a house and why it’s better in the long run to buy versus rent, in a separate post. Debt Let’s talk about debt. We cannot talk about saving and investing before we talk about debt. In my early 20s when I first moved to NYC and was making minimum wage, plus trying to run my blog, I racked up credit card debt. Most of us have done it, and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. It happens! The best advice I can give you is to prioritize paying off your debt before buying or doing those non-essential items in your budget. This doesn’t mean you can never shop or splurge on something until you’re out of debt though! You still have to enjoy life! This article is a great example of someone who has 6 figures in debt, but is managing her payments the best she can while also saving, and having fun/enjoying life. How To Get Out Of Debt Make a budget for yourself like the one I shared above. You can do this in Excel or Google Sheets. Really break everything down item by item so you get a full picture of what you’re spending on, and what you can pull back on. You may be surprised at how much you’re spending on things like Ubers, workout classes, etc! Put whatever is left over from the 50% essential budget and 30% non-essential budget toward your debt. Whatever you do, do NOT miss your minimum monthly payment on a loan or credit card. This can decimate your credit score, and a credit score is extremely valuable – will share more on that later. Don’t be afraid to call up your credit card companies or any banks you have loans with and ask them for a lower interest rate. You never know what they may say – it is always worth asking! Now especially, with COVID-19 companies are more flexible and understanding. Saving In my early 20s I had no clue how to save and didn’t fully understand the importance of it. Luckily I learned – the earlier you start saving the better. If you’re an entrepreneur, you should set aside about 30% of your income for taxes off the bat. If you have a salaried position, you should aim to set aside 20% of your post tax income for savings, retirement and investment accounts. And if you feel like you need outside help to save, then apps like Qapital are great because you can set “rules” for yourself. For example, you can link your credit card and every time you spend, you can have it round up to the closest dollar and take the change from that and put it in your savings account. So let’s say you buy a coffee for $4.95, it will round up to $5 and put the $0.05 into your savings account automatically. You can also create mini goals/specific savings accounts within it for things like; Medical Fund, Travel Fund, Birthday Fund, etc. A company called Ellevest also offers this (more on that under Investing!) High Yield Savings Account A high yield savings account is a great place to park your savings because you can earn more interest there than in a regular savings account. The two high yield savings accounts I recommend are; Ally and Marcus by Goldman Sachs. Both offer a 0.80% APY, versus a conventional savings account which offers around a 0.10% APY. What’s great about both is they don’t require a minimum opening deposit. You could make several hundreds of dollars per year (or more!) just off interest depending on how much you put in the account. Credit Scores Your credit score is extremely important. Landlords look up your credit score for homes you want to rent. Mortgage brokers and banks look at your credit score for homes you want to buy and loans you want to take out. A lower credit score could mean you lose out on the apartment you want to live in, or it could mean you don’t get a mortgage for the house you want to buy. And if you do happen to get a loan with a low credit score, it will come with a higher interest rate. So you should absolutely know and care what your credit score is! You can look up your credit score as often as you like, but having too many “hard inquiries“ on your credit report (for example if several mortgage companies are pulling it up for a loan application) can negatively impact your score. There are three credit unions; Transunion, Equifax and Experian. You could have a different credit score from one, two or all of them, but in general they should be in the same range. Things that affect your credit Score What affects your credit? Not paying your credit card minimum payment on time, not paying bills on time, having a collection or lien out, having a ton of debt, loans, the amount of money in your bank accounts compared to the amount of money you owe, not having enough credit history (i.e. not having a credit card at all), foreclosures, bankruptcy, and more. When I was 18, the first thing I did was open up a credit card. I knew how important it was to start building credit. I knew if I ever wanted to get a loan someday, I needed to show that I could first pay off that loan. And the only way you’re able to prove that to banks is by making monthly payments to your credit card! I know some people are scared of credit cards. Don’t be. Just be smart about what you’re charging! Don’t spend more than you have or make. Be strict with yourself. Credit cards and loans are not bad – they will significantly boost your credit if they are paid off on time and in full. If you’re worried about having self-control, get a credit card and charge 1 coffee to it per month for a year and pay it off every month. Something as simple as that, will build your credit up. Accountants Do you need one? If you are a small business owner, yes. It’s one of the best investments I’ve made in my business. If you need an accountant in NYC, I’ve got a great one – feel free to email me. If you have a salaried position with barely any write offs and everything is pretty straightforward, then no. You can easily do your own taxes and save money. Small Business Finance If you are a small business owner, you should set up an LLC or S Corp depending on which state you live in. An accountant will be able to tell you which one will be best for you tax wise. A lawyer or accountant can set up either for you. You should have a separate business bank account and credit card, and run all business related expenses through those accounts. You don’t want your personal expenses and business expenses to get mixed up. If they do, it will make write offs, budgeting, and tax season a complete headache. I highly recommend setting up an LLC or S Corp and hiring an accountant early on in your business. It will make everything much easier and save you a lot of $ in the long run – trust me. An accountant will be able to tell you what you can and cannot write off, and a good accountant will provide invaluable insight and guidance. Managing Your Finances Even if you have an accountant, you should absolutely still keep tabs on all of your finances. Do not make the same mistake I did years ago, when I got too busy to double check my former accountant’s invoicing, and a year later realized several things had never been invoiced at all! Since I couldn’t be paid until they were invoiced, I had to wait months for the payment. A great way to track your finances, create invoices, and see what you’re spending every month is through Quickbooks. The more simplified version of this would just be to create an Excel or Google Sheets document. What’s nice about Quickbooks is you can create a special template for invoices, so each time you send one, the template just needs to be tweaked. You can also link your credit cards to Quickbooks and have something like an Uber charge be automatically categorized under an overall Transportation spending section. This makes tax season a lot easier because you’re able to see that over the course of the year, you spent X on Transportation, Y on Food, Z on Travel, etc. This info will be used for write offs during tax season if you’re self employed, but it can also be used to show you what you’re spending every month and help you budget. Not only should you keep tabs on your accounting, but you should also be cross referencing your credit card statements 2-3 times/month. Make sure that all of your receipts match your charges. Look out for fraudulent charges (often times cyber criminals start with a small, random charge like a $10 one for a phone case so they don’t get flagged, and then move onto bigger purchases!) Also look out for double charges and unnecessary re-occurring charges. Protect Yourself Against Fraud A few years back, my former assistant mistook a cyber criminal posing as an Amazon customer service rep for a real one. Long story short, she compromised my identity and a large sum of money was wired out of my bank account. It was terrible, but I learned a lot of valuable lessons from the experience. 1. First and foremost, if you’re an employer you should have a code of conduct and a list of rules for all employees with access to your computers, personal information, etc. Go through it together and make sure you don’t assume they know anything – be extensive and thorough. 2. Never save any passwords for your credit cards or banks in your iCloud keychain or on your computer. If your computer gets hacked or stolen, someone could easily click your bank website and log into your account. 3. Now that I’ve been a victim of fraud, I physically go into my bank to do a wire transfer, rather than having it preset up online. 4. Make sure you have a two-factor authentication code on every website. This way, when you or someone else tries to login, you get texted a code that you have to input before gaining access. 5. Sign up for services like Lifelock which monitor your accounts and credit activity. 6. Never use airport or airplane wifi and be wary of public wifi in general. I always connect to the hotspot on my phone. 7. Lastly, I recommend using smaller, more niche banks as opposed to the big ones (Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.) Chase did nothing when my wire fraud happened despite me calling minutes after it occurred and asking for a stop payment. Big banks are also extremely backed up with incoming stimulus payments and PPP loans right now, so you’re more likely to wait a lot longer to get a tax refund or government deposit than you would be with a smaller, niche bank. Investing When I asked you on Instagram Stories what finance topics you wanted me to cover, I was blown away by the amount of you that said investing! It makes me so happy that so many of you are interested investing. Investing used to be incredibly intimidating to me and it felt like something that was only for men. Well, it’s most certainly not only for men! You can invest at any time, any age, and with any amount of money at most large investment firms. I personally didn’t start investing until I was out of debt in my early 20s. For me, getting rid of my credit card debt and student loans was my absolute first and biggest priority. Once I did that, I then focused on building up my savings account to a point where I felt comfortable putting some of my income toward both my savings and investment accounts. Many people recommend having at least 6 months of income in their savings account before investing. To get started, I highly recommend listening to my friend Grace’s Bad on Paper podcast episode with Sallie Krawcheck, founder of Ellevest. Ellevest is the only investing firm built by women for women. This episode is incredibly inspiring and breaks down the basics of investing. What I love about Ellevest is that you don’t need a minimum amount to open up an account with them. You can work with them to choose what kinds of stocks you want, whether it be high risk, low risk, or a combination of both. They can also help you buy bonds, gold, set up a 401k, Roth, Sep IRA and more. There are a ton of investment management companies out there in addition to Ellevest, and I recommend doing your own research and asking your accountant to find the best one for you. Retirement The first type of investment account I recommend getting is a retirement one, particularly a 401k. You can easily set this up yourself online (as long as you have a job) by filling out paperwork and mailing or dropping it off to the investment management company of your choice. You do not need a financial advisor or manager to get started. If you work for a big company, you probably already have a 401k set up. If your company matches your contributions up to a certain $ amount then you are very lucky and should put as much as they’ll match into that account per year! It’s free money and something that should 100% be taken advantage of. If you don’t already have a 401k set up, talk to your employer about one. (If you’re self employed you can set one up yourself through an investment company.) And if you can afford to, put at minimum $19,500/year into your 401k. You can get a (small) tax break on this amount. Your accountant will be able to help you determine which other types of retirement accounts (like a Roth IRA, Sep IRA, etc.) are best for you based on your job and income. You can set those up online yourself as well via the same investment management company. The reason I mentioned setting up a high yield savings account before a retirement account is because you can freely use the money in your savings account versus retirement account. With a retirement account(s), you get penalized if you take any money out before you turn 59 1/2 years old. You can read more info about that here. If you’ve been impacted by COVID-19 and need to take money out of your retirement, this article may be helpful as it outlines the exception that was passed this year for those affected. Other Types of Investments In addition to all of the investment accounts I mentioned above, you can of course diversify your portfolio even more and get into things like real estate investing and angel investing. There’s more risk involved in both of these, but also a possibility of a higher return. This article gives a bit more explanation on what an angel investor is vs a VC in case you’re interested. Angel investors make early (typically 6 figure) investments in companies they see high potential in, hoping that a small number of these companies within their portfolio will give them a huge return. Before getting into any of this though, I recommend building a foundation for yourself in the form of a savings account, retirement account(s), and basic diversified investment account. Money and Relationships I don’t recommend hiring a family member or friend to be your accountant or portfolio manager. Money is an extremely personal and delicate topic. While it is immensely important to vet the person you choose to deal with it, it shouldn’t be a relative or pal. It could easily ruin a relationship and I think it’s important to remember that business is business, and you should keep the emotion OUT of the equation. Your judgement can also get clouded when you’re dealing with someone familiar, which is what you don’t want. In terms of marriage, I strongly feel that all men and women should at bare minimum have their own individual; checking, savings, and retirement accounts. You can share a combined account(s) as well, but always have your own. Sallie from Ellevest spoke more in detail about this in the podcast I mentioned, and she also discusses prenups, so it’s definitely worth a listen. In terms of splitting expenses with your significant other, that’s completely up to you as a couple and will be heavily based on your income, expenses and past experiences. The best advice I can give you in terms of money and relationships, is if you see yourself marrying your partner, you should both lay out ALL of your finances before you get married. You both need to know where you stand when it comes to bank accounts, investment accounts, savings, trusts, salaries, debt, loans, credit scores, spending habits and more. Do not be afraid to have this conversation – it’s absolutely crucial because guess what? Their financial health will effect your financial health when you get married. If you’re self employed there’s no question you need to keep your business bank accounts separate, and only use your business credit card for business expenses, otherwise your taxes will be a mess. Whew, that was a lot of information wasn’t it?! I feel like I only scratched the surface too! I hope that you found this post informative and are inspired to take control of your finances, save and invest for your future if you haven’t already. And I really want to continue this conversation so if you have any other questions, advice or personal experiences to share below please do. The biggest thing I hope you take away from this post, is that no matter what your situation is, you are capable of building a healthy financial picture for yourself. Start slow, continue to educate yourself and grow your wealth!
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Advice on Moving and Changes

Advice on Moving and ChangesSo many of us are going through major transitions and life changes right now. Maybe you’re moving apartments, selling your home, relocating to an entirely different city, looking for a new job, or just simply managing this “new normal” way of living. I wanted to share a bit of my past experiences for those of you trying to navigate this time. No RegretsIn the past 10 years I’ve moved 7 times – 3 of which were cross country! Though tiring, I have never regretted a single move. That’s what your 20s are for – exploring new places, trying new things and figuring out what you like or don’t like. In the beginning, it has always felt a bit scary acclimating to a new neighborhood, city, and/or state, but it’s also been incredibly exhilarating! Overcoming the challenge of settling into a space is so rewarding and has pushed me to grow and develop in ways I never would have. Benefits of MovingWith each move, I’ve gained invaluable knowledge and skills. I’ve met wonderful people and made lifelong connections. I’ve discovered amazing restaurants, hotels, and boutiques. And I’ve been able to see and experience so many unique places all over the country. Most importantly, I’ve been able to become the independent, capable woman I am today. All of my solo adventures and challenges, laid the foundation for the relationship I have with Thomas. I cannot begin to express how important it is to be able to accomplish certain things on your own before entering into a long term partnership. This advice not only applies to romantic relationships, but also friendships and business ventures. You really need to be able to stand on your own two feet before fully committing to another person otherwise the relationship will always be disproportionate. What I’ve Learned From Each MoveFrom AZ to NYC: Straight out of college, at 22, I moved from my hometown Phoenix, AZ to Queens, NY. I didn’t have a job yet – and barely had a penny to my name (except the cash I made from selling my car.) A friend (who is now one of my best friends and operates all things WLFK!) kindly let me rent a room for next to nothing in the house her mom grew up in. I pounded the pavement applying to a zillion jobs, and was lucky enough to reconnect with a childhood friend who put me in touch with her sorority sister who worked at a jewelry company. And I landed an interview and started working there the very next week – it was meant to be. I took the bus to Herald Square Monday-Friday and lived off 99 cent Ray’s pizza and Hale + Hearty salads. I relished eating my lunch in Bryant Park on a hot summer day and doing happy hours after work with new friends. That first year in NYC was one of the best years of my life. I proved to myself that I could move across country, find a job, navigate the city, and make new friends. From Queens to Upper East Side: After a year and a half of living in Queens and commuting into the city, my long distance college boyfriend decided to move to NYC from AZ, and we found a cute walk up apartment on the Upper East Side. I felt like I hit the jackpot being able to rent a real NYC apartment with exposed brick, walking distance to Central Park. I LOVED exploring the UES and discovered tons of gorgeous parks, museums and shops during my 2 years there. The Carl Schurz park is a true hidden gem in the city if you’re ever in the area. And the Frick Collection will always be a favorite of mine! From UES to West Village: After I quit my job to blog full time, I started venturing downtown more regularly and quickly fell in love with the charm of the West Village. Brick townhouses with ivy growing up the sides, quaint cafes with outdoor bistro tables, and quiet tree lined streets had me longing to move there. I found the most darling 2 bedroom apartment in a building on Waverly Place and Bank that was built in the 1920s. I had the quintessential NYC fire escape and a view overlooking hundred year old townhouses. So I relished every second of living in that space and neighborhood… I still love it just as much today as I did back then. I made friends with my super and all of my neighbors, got to know the local baristas and bartenders, became a regular at so many yummy spots, and really felt at home there. And I would run along the West Side Highway at sunset every night – it was my medicine. From West Village to Paris: After 2 years in the West Village and a devastating breakup with my longtime boyfriend, I needed a major change. The apartment we shared together constantly reminded me of him and us. Although I knew deep down he wasn’t “the one” it was still so painful. He had been my best friend for almost 8 years and to go through life without him for those first few months was gut wrenching. So one of my girlfriends had recently moved to London and invited me to come spend the summer with her and encouraged me to move to Europe. I had always wanted to live in Europe and loved Paris, so I thought of it as the study abroad I never had. I rented an apartment in the St. Germain area of Paris and was able to travel all over Europe – to Ibiza, St. Tropez, London and the English countryside that summer. It was an absolute blast and exactly what I needed to mend my broken heart. The change of pace/scenery/culture was SO refreshing. So I decided I wanted to move there full time and began looking into visas, tax laws, and French classes. Unfortunately, toward the end of the summer, something I’ve never shared is – I got robbed in broad daylight. Suddenly I found myself living in a foreign country with no ID, no credit/debit cards, no cash, and no friends or family nearby. It was a complete shock to my system, and helped me understand that it wasn’t a good idea for me to move to a foreign country when I didn’t have a safety net. I came back to my West Village apartment and realized how much I had missed my friends and life in NYC. The universe works in mysterious ways, and it was a sign that Paris was not meant to be! From West Village to LA: I spent another year in West Village after Paris and had a ton of fun dating and enjoying single life in the city. And I felt like I finally hit my stride and embraced being single. I was going out to dinner and drinks every night and taking full advantage of everything the city had to offer. The work opportunities that were coming my way were once in a lifetime, and it was so special being able to meet in person with brands and founders. But then my digestion/stomach issues hit. Everyday I would wake up doubled over in stomach pain, bloated, and sick. I went from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what was wrong, but no one had the right solution. Frustrated and still single, I realized I really needed to focus on self care and my health. With my nonstop lifestyle in NYC, I felt like I couldn’t. I had always wanted to move to LA and I felt really drawn to the ocean. After road tripping through LA for a month, I knew Venice Beach was the town I belonged in. I found a great house 3 blocks from the beach and moved all of my belongings across country. LA was just what I needed at that time in my life. It was laid back, health conscious, and the weather was to die for! The sunshine, ocean, and overall lifestyle grounded and healed me. A friend I had met there, told me about her stomach problems and histamine intolerance. I had never heard of it before, but as soon as I read about it, I realized that could be what was causing all of my digestion issues. I eliminated high histamine food for a year (and still do to this day), and I haven’t had any stomach issues since. So I am forever grateful for meeting her and being introduced to that. So many good things came from my time in LA; from getting my dog Charlie at Vanderpump Dogs, to reconnecting with one of my best friends from college, to exploring all of the different parts of LA, and falling in love with my next door neighbor! Getting a dog opened my heart up to love again, and helped me find and show love in a relationship. Derek taught me so much and although we ultimately wanted different things in life, I’m so happy I met him. From LA to Soho: After 2 years in LA, I was feeling re-energized and centered. I had visited friends in NYC in the fall, and was surprised to find myself missing it. The hustle/bustle and buzz was intoxicating and I wanted to be back amongst the excitement. Derek and I talked about moving to NYC together, but ultimately realized we weren’t compatible long term, so he took a great job opportunity in SF while I moved to NYC. The second I moved back to NYC I knew in my bones I was where I was supposed to be. It felt so good to be back! I threw a huge housewarming party and one of my friends posted a picture of us on her Instagram. Funny enough, a guy who I had been on 1 date with 5 years prior (Thomas, who btw I liked back then, but the timing was all wrong because I moved to Paris the following week!), commented and said he remembered me and asked if I was still single. Our mutual friend reconnected us and we went out on our “second 1st date” a few days later! It was then that we both immediately knew that was it. We’ve been inseparable ever since and he moved in shortly after. Out of all of the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, Soho has been my favorite. It’s so full of life! The diversity, culture, restaurants, shops, hotels, art, people – it’s just constantly inspiring and interesting. Everyday I see or hear something new. What’s NextSo that was pretty much a long winded way of saying; Don’t be afraid to move! Don’t be afraid of change! Get out of your comfort zone. Open yourself up to new people, places, opportunities. Challenge yourself and grow, learn, progress. You can always move back! You can always move out! And you don’t have to stay anywhere. The world is truly your oyster. So keep an open mind, and trust the process. Lean into uncertainty. You don’t have to have all of the answers, or have everything figured out before making a change. You can figure it out along the way! In fact, that’s what I have always done. I’ve come to really understand what people mean when they say, “Life’s about the journey, not the destination.” Because it’s the journey that opens us up to these wonderful chance encounters, it’s the journey that introduces us to these friends, lovers, and places that will forever be a part of us. So, if you’re feeling like you’re in limbo or not sure what to do next, just know that you are not alone. Trust yourself, and listen to whatever your gut is telling you. For me personally, I’m doing a whole lot of thinking right now (serial over thinker right here LOL.) Thomas and I love NYC, our apartment and our neighborhood, but with everything going on in the world, and so many things changing around us, we too are re-evaluating where we want to be now – and long term. We aren’t making any decisions quite yet, but instead just talking, listening, and paying attention to what feels right for us. We are focusing on all of the things we have to be grateful for rather than dwelling on what is out of our control. That said, it is a really great time to switch things up and try something new. Head to that city you’ve always wanted to live in – even if it’s just for a year. Or relish and enjoy quality time with your family rather than rushing back to your apartment. I know I can’t wait to see my dad in Arizona once it’s safe to fly again! Wherever you are, I hope you are safe. I hope you are healthy. And I hope that you listen to your gut and let it guide you. Helpful ArticlesHow To Find An Apartment in NYC 10 Things That Improved My Life How To Get Over A Breakup How To Find A Therapist What is a Histamine Intolerance? My Travel App
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Learning How To Be An Ally

I am deeply horrified, saddened, and overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness by the racial injustice taking place in America today. I’ve spent these past few days educating myself, trying to stay informed, and looking for ways to take action against this unjust reality. I am committed to being an ally. I am committed to being actively anti-racist, because simply being “not racist” is not enough. Being an ally to me, means continuing to educate myself, listening to black men and women, signing petitions, donating to charities that advocate for POC, regularly talking to my friends and family about these issues, teaching my future children from a young age how to be an ally, supporting and encouraging brands to show diversity on their platforms, voting, taking the census, calling + writing to representatives, and standing up for injustice when I see it. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And as I become more informed and educated on this topic, I will be updating and adding to this post. No one should be treated differently because of the color of their skin. No one deserves to be living in fear or suppressing themselves in order to not get arrested, profiled, ridiculed, or killed. I will never be able to know or understand what black men and women in America have been through, but I will stand with them. I will speak up, I will take action. None of us have all of the answers, but we must start somewhere. Learning How To Be An Ally Have conversations about racial injustice with your family and friends – this video really helped me start Talk to your kids or commit to talking to your future children about this – here’s a list of some great books Educate yourself by reading about racial injustice – I just ordered this book Support and encourage more brands to represent and work with POC Support black owned businesses – I have a lot of research to do here Check in on your black friends and let them know that you’re thinking of them and there for them Request an absentee ballot so you can vote without contact Vote during the primaries for state and local officials, not just during the presidential election Take the census – it’s how the government decides how much funding your community will get for schools, hospitals and more Donate to the NAACP Donate to the The Loveland Foundation Donate to George Floyd’s family Text FLOYD to 55156 to sign the petition Contact state and local leaders Take a stand against injustice when you see it Use your voice and your power to bring awareness to this important issue whether it be on social media, or elsewhere Continue having these conversations and taking action weeks, months, years from now The last thing that I will say, is that everyone has a voice. So please use yours in a positive way. Don’t let the fear of misspeaking hold you back. We are all human and no one is perfect. This quote really resonated with me, “Empathy: Let me hold the door for you. I may have never walked in your shoes, but I can see your soles are worn, your strength is torn under the weight of a story I have never lived before. Let me hold the door for you. After all you’ve walked through, It’s the least I can do.” -MHN
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Life As An Introvert

Growing up I was definitely more of a reserved kid. I was a TOTAL bookworm and threw myself into my homework and art projects. I loved playing make-believe in my treehouse, or accompanying my mom antique shopping. And I was happiest either one on one with someone – or completely alone. I loathed group activities and projects. They stressed me out, exhausted me. And I felt like I couldn’t get anything done with everyone talking over one another. Please No Summer Camp!My parents forced me to do group activities though – everything from softball to swimming, volleyball and track. I lasted about 1 year in each sport and would beg them not to make me go back. I wanted to take art classes (which were always calm + quiet). Or focus on my studies from the comfort of my home. I realize I’m making myself out to sound like a total nerd…welp I still am! My sister on the other hand, was SO outgoing. Obsessed with club volleyball, soccer team captain, always blowing off her homework to have huge choreographed dance parties with her friends in our driveway, and would go to sleep away camp for months over the summer. I can’t even begin to talk about how much I hated camp lol…. A Fish Out Of WaterMy best friends in middle school were semi introverted, but not on the level that I was. So I always felt like a fish out of water amongst my peers. That feeling stuck with me throughout high school, college and beyond. I somehow always gravitated to a more outgoing friend or group of friends (maybe because I so badly wanted to be seen as outgoing and also didn’t fit in with the “shy” crowd), and this left me feeling constantly out of place, confused and misunderstood. For basically my entire life, I tried to hide my introversion. It was impossible though. Like clock work, after I’d done too much socializing, I’d eventually get insanely drained and make up an excuse that I had to go home to grab something, had to work, didn’t feel well, couldn’t make it to the party because of X,Y,Z etc… Stigma Around IntrovertsI was always embarrassed to admit I was an introvert because society certainly doesn’t celebrate introverts. Introverts have been mislabeled and misunderstood forever. People think introverts are shy and reclusive, but that just isn’t the case. I’ve never thought of myself as shy – I love meeting new people and feel very comfortable walking into a room full of strangers and striking up conversation. I also LOVE to travel. Exploring new places and discovering hidden gems is one of my greatest passions. A Book About IntrovertsIt wasn’t until I read the book Quiet last year, that I came to fully understood and embrace the definition of an introvert. Susan Cain, the author behind Quiet, defines introverts as having “a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environment. Introverts tend to enjoy quiet concentration, listen more than they talk, and think before they speak, and have a more circumspect and cautious approach to risk. Introverts think more, are less reckless and focus on what really matters – relationships and meaningful work.” Cain shares that between “one-third and one-half of Americans may be classified as introverts, though individuals fall at different places along an introvert-extrovert spectrum.” Those people are called ambiverts. Yep, I’m A Textbook IntrovertUp until this quarantine 51 days ago, I considered myself pretty 50/50 on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. I mean, I love going to a good party, catching up with friends, being out + about in NYC – it excites me and makes me feel alive! However I also really love my downtime at home reading, writing, creating and dreaming. Whether I go in or stay out really depends on my mood or the situation. BUT the majority of the time, as in about 90% of the time, I am perfectly content – actually over the moon – staying home by myself or with one or two people I love. I would choose staying home or doing something intimate and quiet, over a loud event, dinner, or party any day. Embracing IntroversionThe blessing and silver lining behind this quarantine for me personally, has been that after all of these years I’ve finally come to terms with just how introverted I really am. I feel SO grounded and content after this time at home, away from the pressure I have felt for years from both myself and others to go out, out, out and do so.many.things! In reality, my fun is recharging at home. Immersing myself in creative projects, cooking, teaching myself new things, and having low key movie nights cuddled with Charlie and T. May I add that I feel very fortunate to even have the option to stay home while so many others don’t! Anyways, when this is all over, will I be sooooo excited to throw on my heels and attend a fabulous party, dine out at a restaurant, and hug my friends? YES OF COURSE! DUH! But, knowing me, I will probably be ready to kick my heels off, throw my sweats on and get cozy about an hour or two in ;) To My Fellow IntrovertsTo all of my closet, or not-so-closet introverts and ambiverts, out there I feel you and I get you! Let’s change the stigma around introversion and be proud of what makes us who we are. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and read Quiet even if you’re not an introvert. My friend Grace wrote an amazing review on it in case you need more convincing. It’s truly an eye opening read that will help you understand not only yourself, but the people in your life.
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