Little Fires Everywhere

Hello, World.

A few posts ago, I listed out my May to-be-read, which included Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I’ve been dying to read this novel for months, so when I finally had some down time I immediately reached for it. I finished it today and wow. I loved it for so many reasons, which I want to share without giving too much away.

ACS_0276.jpg

When I first read the dust jacket flap, I wasn’t sure how all the various storylines would develop and intersect. In truth, I was a bit skeptical. It seemed like Ng was attempting to cover a lot of ground and I was worried character development might suffer. The summary is as follows:

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster or heartbreak.

Now that I finished the novel, I can say that the characters were developed in subtle, but poignant ways. I saw a few reviews that said the characters felt one-dimensional, but I feel like if people felt like that they missed the subtlety that was operating within the story that was continually moving characters forward. Each of the children developed as much as appropriate for the overarching story, which is ultimately a story of motherhood and what it means to be a mother. The novel poses a question: is motherhood love, biology, or an unexplainable mixture of moving parts? By the end of the novel, what motherhood isn’t answered by Ng, but I think the readers’ reactions to the major plot points in the work can answer this question implicitly.

My biggest critique of most books I’ve read recently is pacing. The book either gives too much backstory upfront to the point of feeling gratuitous or falls short of having an actual plot (sometimes it feels like you read 300 pages only to find nothing really happened — for example, The Nest, which took me so long and left me wanting). The pacing of this novel felt just right. Certain information came when it seemed most appropriate, we went back in time to understand how much the past informed the present, and we looked forward, to see the enduring fallout of the events in the story we gained access to in this novel. I also liked that the first chapter opened with the burning of the Richardson home because I was immediately hooked and I feel like the characters’ reactions to the fire felt so accurate, but in a retroactive way. For example, some comments felt a little unconventional in that first chapter, but by the novel’s close you can’t help but think “but of course that’s how Lexie or Moody or Trip reacted.”  Ng isn’t frivolous with characters. She takes on each person and explores their motivations, their pasts, and how they came to be where they are in 1997 when the novel takes place. In fact, I liked that Ng rooted a lot of character development in characters’ past decisions. This felt so authentic because, in many ways, our futures are defined by the decisions we make, the lives we choose, the reactions we have to formative events, and the times we left things behind, never to look back but always to wonder what could have been different if we chose differently.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration of motherhood within the novel, something that most struck me was the perfectionism and how judgments we make about others can be turned on their head by our own mistakes. I think the juxtaposition of Mia to Mrs. Richardson is so interesting because they parent so differently, and yet they both just want to love their children and give them opportunities and good lives. I also love how certain characters are quick to judge others’ actions until they’re put in a position that forces them to look those judgments in the eye and level with them, perhaps responding to the situation in the exact way that, if they were a third party outsider, they would judge very unforgivingly. There are some cringe-worthy moments when people are so judgmental, but in all honesty, they are things I think people often say behind closed doors, and that should have a little light shined on if only to make us pause and think, “is that what I would say?”

I will say I was a bit sad about one aspect of the ending, but it’s hard to explain why without giving away too much. So, I will just say I wish I had a bit more closure with some characters, but I still really enjoyed this read and I definitely recommend it!

Up next, I’ll be reading The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah!

Truly,
Callie leigh

Advertisements

Wrinkles, Hair Loss, and Night Guards … Oh My

Add heading (1).png

Hello, World!

Today I am here with that I think is a funny post. I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day, and I was listing out things I know use daily that I never thought I would need until I’m much older. I suppose law school stress has affected the chemical makeup of my body or changed me in ways I can no longer reverse without a little help. One of my best college friends, who is in law school in California, sent me a meme one day about how sometimes you look in the mirror and think “wow I look tired,” and then all the sudden you find yourself looking into the mirror, almost daily, and think “oh, this is just my face now.”

At the beginning of my second year of law school, I noticed that my forehead was starting to have lines… wrinkles if you will. I thought maybe it was from sleeping… but then I realized I don’t sleep on my face. So, I ordered an anti-wrinkle serum to apply nightly. I followed a recommendation of another blogger and ordered the Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate. I apply it nightly before bed, along with a moisturizer. It’s helping reduce the appearance of the lines, but they remain. Honestly, at 23, I never thought anti-wrinkle anything would be part of my beauty routine.

Then, the last time my sister did my hair, she commented on its thickness… or should I say thinness? She described it as almost menopausal, as I’d lost more than half my thickness. I’d noticed that my hair was falling out, but thought it was just stress and moved on. But then my sister encouraged me to ask my doctor because the level of loss was really abnormal. We still don’t know the exact cause of my hair loss, but I’ve started a daily multi-vitamin with biotin to help foster hair growth. I also loaded up on various hair thickening products. I’ve always been a bit unhappy with the thickness of my hair, but this reached a new level. I have these baby hairs around my face I never had two years ago, and I feel like my hair looks so thin when I try to style it. It’s something I’m very insecure about and makes me hate styling my hair because I just don’t feel good about it. I’m also trying to get back to eating healthier and living a healthier lifestyle, as when I was eating really well my hair looked the best it ever did. Still, I never thought hair loss would be something I was dealing with at 23.

When I visited my dentist last, he mentioned that I’m grinding my teeth. This I knew. I could feel it in my jaw after sleeping and knew my teeth were getting more and more sensitive. So, he fitted me for a night guard. Both my parents have night guards, but I never really thought I would need one this young. I guess grinding teeth is more stress related than age-specific, but still… add it to the list of things I never thought I’d need at 23.

Something I’ve often alluded to in blog posts was my struggle to adjust to living in Virginia and the stress of law school. I had health issues for months when I first moved. I never felt good, I often felt like I had the flu, and my stomach hurt every time I ate. So, I didn’t really eat anything but soup. Then I went to a gastrointestinal specialist, who said he thought I either had Chron’s or something else and said we could start with medication and go from there. So, two years later, I’m on a stomach medication that I take with meals. I don’t love taking medication, I’m the person who stubbornly avoids cold medicine and allergy medication. But, without my stomach medication, I have severe cramping when I eat. I love to eat, so obviously, this isn’t ideal. Did I think, two years ago when I was doing great and feeling great, that I’d need daily stomach medication? No. Has it become normal to me? Yes. This might be TMI, sharing this, but I think sometimes we struggle with things alone that other people may also be dealing with. I also think it’s easy to only share the positives, and ignore the negatives, which creates a distorted picture of who we are.

I’ve always struggled with anxiety. While I’m not overly vocal about it on my blog, I think I’ve been transparent that I’m an anxious person. One of my friends, who also has a lot of anxieties, recently said “we have a lot of the same anxieties. I thought I was the only one.” Having anxiety is really hard and can feel so isolating. Some people don’t have the patience or simply don’t know how to handle people with anxiety, and that can feel like they don’t care about you enough to try. One of the reasons I started reading Carly the Prepster was because she voiced so many truths about anxiety that resonated with me. I didn’t feel so alone about it. Even when we feel alone, we often aren’t, which we would realize if we’re brave enough to talk about our struggles with others.

So, I wanted to share that I use or have issues with all of this simply because some of you might be dealing with similar problems or similar stresses and thinking your body is reacting abnormally. If you read this and thought, “wow she’s got problems,” you’re not wrong, but I hope this post shed light that we all deal with things that aren’t visible on the surface and that people are good at hiding when they want to, so have empathy and don’t make assumptions!

Truly,
Callie leigh

The Art of Doing Nothing: Free Time Blues

The Art of Doing Nothingas a Young Professional.png

Hello, World.

As young professionals, we are used to going and going and going and rarely taking breaks. I recently finished my second year of law school and I have a bit of time between finishing the academic year and relocating for my summer internship. I am going home to California in August, so while many of my friends are traveling, I’m currently in my law school’s town just … hanging out. I was lamenting my boredom and lack of activities to my roommate and best law school friend, and she responded “you should do a blog post about this. How hard it is to go from being so overwhelmed with work to just doing nothing and how hard the transition is.” I couldn’t agree with her more, so here I am!

The first few days after a semester, I have a decompression period. I do very little “work” and tend to just lounge and sleep and recharge my batteries. This is normal and I do this at home with my family — everyone knows my first few days home are for rest and easy outings. Then, after my recharge period, we start doing more and I start getting back to “work” related things, whether that’s reading, blogging, etc. or starting an internship. This year, however, is my first May where I am not in California for my rest period or my post-rest period fun. Do I wish I was in California right now with my family? Absolutely. But financially and logistically, it wasn’t a good decision for me to go home. So, I’m in Virginia truly on my own with nothing to do (most my friends are visiting home or have relocated for the summer). It’s an odd feeling to wake up and know that you have to entertain yourself because there isn’t law school work to do (though this is coming, as I am on an executive board for a law journal and we have to grade competition entries for next years staff members). I’ve been reading a lot, which is great, and I’ve been planning out blog content, which is nice, but it’s hard to embrace the free time when roughly two weeks ago I was so overwhelmed and felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day to complete all that I needed to. It’s kind of funny because when I’m in school I have so many things I’d rather be doing or could think of doing. And yet… once the free time comes, I’m at a loss of how to handle it.

So, why do we have such a hard time adjusting to having free time? For starters, I think we are so used to feeling short on time that it’s almost more overwhelming to have so much time. When you’re a high-achieving person, you’re used to the “go” and don’t know how to embrace the “slow.” More and more I’m seeing self-proclaimed Type-A personalities taking a step back, trying to enjoy the quiet, and trying to take time to do things that bring them joy. When you’re in school full-time, while you can take time for those things, you still have a rigorous schedule you follow and deadlines and responsibilities that keep coming for you, even when you try to avoid them. When those things disappear, even for a brief two weeks before it all starts again, the reset button feels so foreign and jolting it’s hard to respond. But, the thing is, we should respond by reaching out, grabbing the free time, and embracing it like a long lost lover because the truth is, resetting is so so important.

Personally, I put so much pressure on myself and push myself so hard, that I often feel burned out and exhausted by the end of an academic year. Over the last two years, the burn out often results in me questioning if I’ve made a massive mistake with my life’s course. I don’t say this to imply I don’t want to be a lawyer. I do. But this is the thing: burn out makes you question things you wouldn’t otherwise question. It makes you feel like you’re making a mistake in some facet of your life when really you just need a nap. The way to avoid burn out? Revel in the moments where you can relax, where you can read a great novel, listen to a new album, watch that movie that makes you laugh. One of the reasons I didn’t want to go back to California now is because it’s a long trek, and I’m busy the whole time, and then I come back a bit jet-lagged in need of a vacation from my vacation. So, when my dad and I talked about it, we decided I’d go home in August and use this time to relax and get ready for my internship. Maybe that makes me sound weak, needing time for myself to recharge, but I think allowing yourself moments of calm brings more joy and less overwhelm (thank you, Hilary Rushford, for that tagline).

Outside of our persona of being young professionals, we’re all dealing with stuff. Whether it’s relationships, friendships, balance, body image issues, finding out someone you love isn’t well, trying to make time for people, trying to find yourself, etc., we’re all dealing with a lot that has absolutely nothing to do with our careers. That adds a layer of pressure and stress that makes being focused on a career that much harder. It also makes burn out more likely and it makes it more likely we will change our minds about certain things. Maybe that gym membership we thought we had time for, we don’t. Maybe that new relationship is not right for us. Maybe that friend who only seems to take and never seems to give needs to go. I don’t mean to say alone time, resetting time will bring you huge life changes, rather I mean the more you take breaks, allow yourself recharge periods, and the more you embrace the free time you have, the more you decrease the chances of burning out, of feeling overwhelmed, of feeling inadequate. For me, the more overwhelmed I am, the more I feel like it’s me that’s doing something wrong. Sure, this is something a therapist would likely have a field day with, but over the years I’ve learned that to avoid this feeling, I have to take time to myself. So, I take time to myself and I’m usually good at having alone time, but the last few weeks were a struggle. Maybe it’s too much alone time that was the change or knowing that I could be with my family instead of being here, but I think ultimately, this time is good for the soul.

I’m not sure if this post offered any advice, but I will say that I think there is a very real struggle when young professionals go from their “go” time to their “slow” time and I think it’s okay to recognize that free time is hard to adjust to. However, I think rather than fighting it or trying to occupy that time with work, it’s completely okay to embrace the slow. Go get your coffee and stroll downtown. Go shopping by yourself (this is oddly therapeutic, let me tell you!). Go read in the park. Watch the movie that’s been on your list for months. Buy yourself a bottle of wine and drink it on your porch in the sunshine. Being good at being alone is a hard thing, but the more you take time for yourself, the more you will have to offer others.

Truly,
Callie leigh

A Podcast I’m Loving

Hello, World.

Podcasts are, in many ways, the new hot thing. I feel like everyone has a podcast or has an idea for a podcast. It’s amazing how many of my favorite bloggers, YouTubers, and Instagrammers are announcing that they’re starting a podcast. I didn’t really get the appeal of podcasts initially, to be honest. I never jumped on the Serial bandwagon and I didn’t get into other podcasts that I started listening to regularly. I would listen to a few episodes of Gilmore Guys randomly or episodes of podcasts that featured my favorite content creators and celebrities. Still, no podcast really caught my attention. However, Grace Atwood of The Stripe just started a podcast with Becca Freeman called Young Adulting. It’s so good. They’re hilarious and so honest and I find each episode so relatable!

IMG_6781.jpg

The podcast is one-part young adult (“bad book”) book club and one-part life advice about adulting, or at least figuring out to adult. It’s so fresh and funny. I love hearing their perspective and the jokes they make. I think the key to a good podcast is strong chemistry between the hosts, and their banter is incredibly funny and there aren’t awkward pauses or uncertainties. They both dive in wholeheartedly to the episode and are honest about their lives, and answer listener questions so thoughtfully. I also appreciate that they answer questions differently and talk about why they feel differently about certain things.

If you’re in need of a new podcast and want something light-hearted but honest and great, I highly recommend this one!

Truly,
Callie leigh

May To Be Read List

Hello, World.

My favorite part of summer is reading. This summer I’m hoping to get a lot of reading done because I sincerely miss reading for pleasure, and I rarely have time to read for pleasure while in school. Over the last few months, I started following some bookish Instagrams and YouTube channels in an attempt to stay up on popular literature and find books I to read once I finished school. It may seem dorky, and maybe it is, but I feel so removed from the world of books during the academic year because I just have such little time to read. So, I love how many bookish accounts are popping up on Instagram and how many YouTubers are embracing their bookish habits and that they’re sharing them with the online world.

So, without further ado here are the books I plan to read this May, which are all books that have popped up on my Instagram feed and in YouTube videos for months.

ACS_0264.jpg

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer — This book was so heavily anticipated in the literary world. I saw it popping up constantly and got really excited about it. A Beautiful Mess used to do a book club (I think they’ve stopped, as I haven’t seen it advertised or discussed on their blog for a long time), and one pick was Wolitzer’s The Interestings. I will say sometimes I’m hesitant to take advice from others because I’ve read books that were recommended that I found so boring or uninteresting. However, the end of the blurb Amazonzon reads, “At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the spark we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time) and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.” That little bit of information was enough to hook my interest, so I snagged this book from my local Barnes and Noble and am so excited to start it!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones — This book is another that I’ve seen over and over again. My favorite bloggers, Instagram accounts, and YouTubers all are reading it and all the people who finished it loved it. The novel follows a young newlywed couple who are ripped apart shortly after marrying as the husband is sentenced to twelve years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. A heavy, emotional storyline that, according to those who have read it, leaves you feeling heartbroken, I think this is such a relevant, interesting read and I cannot wait to dive in. Also, if my thoughts aren’t enough, this was an Oprah Book Club pick!

Educated by Tara Westover — Hailed as a cross between Wild and Hillbilly Elegy, this memoir immediately caught my attention. I try to read a decent amount of nonfiction, but truth be told I am much more of a fiction reader. Still, a compelling story and complicated family dynamics are always a pull for me. This story is about how Westover’s upbringing in a survivalist family and the fact that she did not receive formal education until the age of seventeen. Honestly, so excited to read this. Ali Edwards and others have loved it, and so I can only imagine I will too.

Little Fire Everywhere by Celeste Ng — This is the book I’ve seen the most and had recommended the most times. This is the first book I’m picking up from my to-be-read list, and I’m about five chapters in and already know it’s going to be insanely good. This book juxtaposes the Richardson family, a Brady Bunch-esque family in a small town outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Enter Mia and Pearl, a mother-daughter duo that is unconventional, free-spirited, and very different than anyone the town produces. I’ve heard people LOVE this book AND it’s being adapted for the screen by Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington is involved, so definitely a timely read.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah — This is another family dynamic-focused novel… I’m sensing a theme here. from the author of The Nightingale, another super popular read a few years ago, the novel takes place in Alaska in 1974. The novel focuses on a family that has an abusive father, a young girl coming to terms with her place in the world, and a mother who will do anything for the love of her life. I’ve heard the setting places a huge role in the story and that Alaska becomes its own character. I’ve heard so many great things about this read, so I’m looking forward to this.

I’m trying to read so much this summer. I used to read so much, and then law school came and I just lost the ability to read for pleasure. I was always stressed and a little too worn out to want to read. So, here’s to new literary beginnings and reading a lot of dense, timely novels!

Truly,

Callie leigh

A Lesson in Vulnerability

Add heading.png

Hello, World.

I recently started watching the new Queer Eye, and I love it. It’s so so good and I highly recommend it if you haven’t already watched. Something the Fab 5 always say is that vulnerability, while often associated with weakness, is actually a sign of immense strength. In one episode, they were talking about how when we try to guard ourselves against other people, we end up closing ourselves in. Building walls against the world mean we end up alone behind the wall, unable to form meaningful connections and losing out on potentially great friendships and relationships.

Some people are bad at being vulnerable. I’m one of them. I often err on the side of not being vulnerable, not opening myself up to be hurt, and I only trust people in so far as they haven’t given me a definitive reason to not trust them. Some people would say this is a problem. Some would say it’s smart to protect oneself. I recently watched Call Me By Your Name, and there’s a beautiful interaction at the end where the Professor says:

In your place, if there is pain, nurse it. And if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out. Don’t be brutal with it. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster, that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything ― what a waste!

What I love about this speech is that he’s encouraging vulnerability. He’s encouraging his son to rest in pain and frustration rather than attempting to squash such feelings. The sentiment of ripping things out of ourselves to be cured of things faster is an interesting one. People who have been hurt often carry that hurt with them, even when it’s dormant and no longer felt. The memories of pain and allowing someone enough power to hurt us informs our decisions in the future as to whether we’re willing to give someone new that power again. I once told someone that I didn’t feel people intentionally hurt other people (unless they’re a sociopath). Most people don’t go into things with someone with the intention of hurting them in some way. Sometimes we figure out what we want too late. Sometimes we figure out what we don’t want too late. Sometimes people change and people no longer fit. Sometimes the universe intervenes and too many factors add up to destroy whatever you have. Sometimes people’s pasts are too present and create a barrier that is impenetrable to a new person.

But here is the kicker: we build up walls because we want to avoid pain. We don’t show vulnerability because it’s often a sign of some sort of weakness, as the Fab 5 in Queer Eye articulate at least once an episode. I think in many ways we believe that refusing to show vulnerability is protecting ourselves. But in reality, refusing to be vulnerable is two-way protection. We protect ourselves from being hurt, but we also protect the other person involved from being hurt by us. If we’re not vulnerable, we aren’t showing our cards, the other person doesn’t know where we stand, and then they end up pulling whatever cards they’re holding close to their chest, unable to know if they’re worth showing us. It’s a vicious cycle, really. And then, in small moments of openness, we see their cards or they speak their mind and we’re left even more uncertain or confused than if everyone had just played their hand at the beginning of the game.

I think being vulnerable and being transparent are not equivalent actions. While being vulnerable may feel like you’re being transparent, I think transparency is a version of being honest about where you are and what you’re feeling, and vulnerability is allowing people enough of yourself for them to potentially hurt you, but trusting them not to. When you look at the definition of the two things, transparency is defined as “having thoughts, feelings, or motives that are easily perceived,” whereas vulnerability is defined as “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm,” and synonyms offered are “weak, helpless, and impotent.” So, maybe we should start talking less about vulnerability and more about transparency. Regardless of the word we use, however, I think the world could use more honesty and I think most things would be easier if people were honest about how they felt, allowed people in, and didn’t dismiss emotions. We should take Professor Pearlman’s speech in Call Me By Your Name and allow ourselves to sit in our emotions, and rather than tucking them neatly in the recesses of our soul, we should allow others to see us as we are: feeling and complex beings.

Truly,
Callie leigh

Read This When You Feel Burned Out

Read This When You Feel Burnt Out (1).png

Hello, World.

I recently completed my second year of law school and while preparing for finals I felt an unparalleled sense of burn out. Studying was so difficult, finding motivation was a challenge, and I just felt so … burned out. I blame this, in part, on not having a true break since January. I went to California for spring break, but that was a busy trip and I didn’t rest as much as I normally do when home. So, I wanted to explore the concept of burn out a bit more. When motivation isn’t coming anymore, and when you’d rather just quit, and when you feel like there’s a constant weight on your shoulders that gets more and more difficult to bear, you’re probably burning out.

My mom called me a few months ago about an article she’d read that claimed that people who didn’t take time off before graduate school showed higher levels of burn out. I can’t say this conclusion was particularly surprising, but what was pertinent to this discussion was the encouragement to take time off. I think “time off” used to be, at least where I’m from, is a bit of a dirty phrase. When I think of taking time off I think of a season 5 and 6 Rory Gilmore having a major crisis and just about ruining her future by dropping out of Yale. However, what’s missing from the analysis of Rory’s choice was that she did what we should all do when our goals, aspirations, and dreams are no longer clear. She took a step back. She took a breath. Unlike the article my mom read, Lorelai Gilmore thought Rory taking a step back was the end of her life, a decision that she’d never recover from. To be honest, I think most viewers shared Lorelai’s view. However, two years into law school and a lot of frustration later, I think my view on “taking time off” has drastically changed. I no longer feel like taking a step back and figuring out what you want is a terrible thing. In fact, I think it’s probably the best thing you can do.

Though the burn out I’m discussing is related to academia, I think it’s important to take a step back anytime any aspect of your life isn’t clear or you don’t know what you want. The nice thing about academia, rather than working full time, is we have summer and scheduled breaks. While most of us still have internships and things to keep us busy on those breaks, I think they break up our routine enough that burn out is delayed, but still happens. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re burning out. We’re so focused on finishing task after task that we don’t stop to listen to ourselves. We should.

We should listen to ourselves, be honest with others, and take a step back when we need a moment, a breath. The world is so loud, especially with everything going on right now, and it seems everyone has a say in what we should be doing (and yes, I recognize in writing this post I’m also advising you, my readers, on what you should be doing). I think some of us, when we’re unsure, solicit such advice. I’m guilty of this. I often ask my friends their opinion, and if that doesn’t clear it up, I call my sister, and if I still don’t know (or simply haven’t gotten the answer I secretly want) I call my mom. I run through their advice, hoping to figure out what to do. Other times people offer up completely unsolicited advice, which is seldom helpful. BUT, and this is the big but, the voice I should listen to is my own. I should trust myself, trust that even if I make a decision and it’s wrong or a mistake, its a decision that I have agency over and I can deal with on my own, away from conflicting advice and opinions and people who are not me.

If you’re feeling burned out, that’s normal. Burn out is, in many ways, inevitable. However, if you’re feeling yourself getting there, take a moment for yourself. Leave the books in the library and go to yoga. Leave the paper on the table and go for a run. Go to a used bookstore and browse. Go to the record store. Go do something completely unrelated to what is making you feel burned out and enjoy being in that moment. Remembering that you are in control of your life is hard at times, especially with so many voices contributing to the chorus of your life, but what is important is you. So, the next time you feel burn out stirring in the halls of your being, listen to it and take a moment to be with yourself. Sometimes solitude is the only cure.

Truly,
Callie leigh

Overcoming Self Doubt

How to Best Balance Your Responsibilities in College.png

Hello, World.

For the past year and a half, I have been pretty transparent about my battle with self-doubt and confusion about whether I’m where I should be and doing what I should be doing. For most of my life, I’ve been known as confident, firm in my convictions, and moving toward a specific goal. While the goal sometimes changes, I remain steadfast in my pursuit of it. However, leaving California and moving to a new state, struggling to find friends, and having some other personal issues at play, I’ve never felt more displaced. At the end of this post, I will link to posts that I think expand on the feelings I’ve had, which I encourage you to read if you haven’t already. Anyway, I think a large part of my self-doubt is rooted in the feeling of displacement that was so present during my first year of law school. I never felt smart enough to be here, I consistently felt like my tribe was nowhere to be found (and sobbed just thinking about my college friends), and I generally felt like I made some massive mistake. However, I took specific steps to overcome self-doubt and they really improved my confidence and I slowly felt the feelings of self-doubt being replaced with feelings of confidence or at least contentedness.

First, I was selective about where I invested my time. I was so involved in college, but in law school I decided to be more selective and focus heavily on my classes, adding things to my schedule only when I was really passionate about them. The selectiveness made me feel in control – a feeling I was missing.

Second, if I felt like someone was taking away from my happiness, I minimized interactions with them. I recently visited my college with one of my law school friends and when relaying the details of our visit to my family she said, “those are Callie’s people.” I laughed, knowing it was completely true. When I first got to law school, I wasn’t finding my people. People I was spending time with operated very differently than I did and I felt so drained after spending time with them. That may seem harsh, but in all honesty, they’re fine people, just not my people. So, I asked people I did enjoy spending time with to go for coffee and made a more pointed effort to see them more.

Third, fake it ’til you make it with daily reminders. Something people may not know is, when I was really struggling, I started meditating and I would meditate on confidence or self-doubt. I would try to meditate and clear my head, reminding myself that I am good enough, that I got into this law school for a reason, and that just being me was enough. Small reminders and pointed thinking helped me tremendously.

Fourth, take time to do the things you know you enjoy and are good at doing. Do you enjoy running? Are you good at playing the guitar? Do you enjoy coffee? Do you enjoy reading a book before bed? When you’re feeling displaced or confused or overwhelmed with doubt, ground yourself in the things that make you, you. I started reading before bed, and it’s changed my life. I feel so much happier going to bed and I sleep better, which makes my day better. I listen to music and stretch. I go for walks around my town, getting sunshine and fresh air, and I feel so much better afterward. When you’re struggling, I think it’s helpful to return to your passions and the things you know you’re good at in order to feel like a more confident you. I left college feeling so capable, sure, and motivated. That all faded at an alarming pace and returning to small things that I loved (e.g., reading novels before bed) made all the difference.

Fifth, when small changes won’t do, make big changes. Sometimes what is making your unhappy or unsure about yourself is more rooted in your daily life. This was true for me. I felt like when you’re trying to high five a person and you just keeping missing hands, unable to meet the other person where they are or maybe they’re unable to meet you where you are and you just do not mesh. If this is the case, make a major change. Figure out what is best for you, and take the plunge. While it can be scary and may cause drama, know that making the decision is a heightened version of self-care that we could all use more of in this life.

Sixth, establish a support system. Reach out to mentors, talk to your family, express your feelings to your friends (your real friends, not acquaintances or selfish people). I feel like a bit of a broken record when I talk about support systems, but if the last year has taught me anything, it’s that support systems are invaluable and you want to make sure you have a support system that will last a while. There’s nothing sadder, in my opinion, of seeing people throw away people who care in favor of people who care right now.

Posts you might like if you enjoyed this post:

Read this when … you’re scared to take the risk

When You Can’t Find Your Place, Create It 

Read this when … someone massively disappoints you

1L In Review

Truly,

Callie leigh

 

Call Me By Your Name

ACS_0163.jpg

Hello, World.

Sometimes I watch a movie and I just cannot stop thinking about it. Sometimes I read a book and I cannot stop thinking about the book. Sometimes, I watch a movie and cannot stop thinking about it so I go to Barnes and Noble and buy the book that the film is based on so I can get more of the story. Then I finish the book and am left gutted. Well, this hasn’t happened in a while, but it recently happened with Call Me By Your Name, a film starring Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet that is based on a novel by Andre Aciman.

The general plot is that it’s a love story. Elio is a seventeen-year-old Italian boy whose family is a bit of an intellectual haven and his father, a professor, hosts graduate students each summer for six weeks to assist them in their graduate research in exchange for their help with his own research. What develops during the six weeks is a passionate affair between Elio and Oliver, the year’s graduate student. I had reservations about watching the movie. It was pretty hyped and I just generally wasn’t sure if the story would be told well enough so as to do the love story justice. So, a few nights ago I was home alone and noticed it was available for rent on iTunes. I decided to watch it and oh my. It is so layered, so detailed, so well done I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I needed to know more about Elio and Oliver’s story, where they go, what happens, if they find closure, etc.

So, I picked up the book. Beautifully written, fully capturing the obsessive-infatuated-irrational nature of first love, the book is a delectable tale of uncertainty, sexuality, and falling so in love with someone that you cannot possibly be without them. I particularly like that this story takes place over a summer because, while summer love can be a bit of a trope, the story’s trajectory is heightened because we know, from the very beginning, that time is working against them. In the novel, Elio thinks, “time makes us sentimental. Perhaps, in the end, it is because of time that we suffer.” The beauty of a story that discusses and unapologetically dissects sexuality taking place over the summer is that the trajectory is heightened in terms of their ending but the inhibitions and cautions people to take when they have an unknown amount of time are lessened. Knowing time is finite, Elio and Oliver do things and admit things and reveal things that would take non-summer love stories months or years to address. But ultimately, the issue with summer love is that the end of the relationship is a date that the people can pinpoint on a calendar rather than a date that may or may never come, depending on how things go.

Perhaps my favorite takeaway from the novel and film alike is the sense that pain is meant to be felt and that heartbreak will wound us, but we should not push away the pain. At one point in the novel, Elio laments, “Anticipating sorrow to neutralize sorrow–that’s paltry, cowardly stuff, I told myself, knowing I was an ace practitioner of the craft.” This sentiment hit me in the gut. In the past few years, I find myself often saying, “I prepared myself for x result.” But as I read the previous quote, I found myself feeling like anticipation never actually neutralizes anything. Further to this point, Professor Pearlman (Elio’s dad) has an incredible speech regarding heartbreak and the recovery process for heartbreak and during his speech he says, “if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of 30 and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!” There are a lot of moving parts underlying this speech, this moment between father and son, a moment of understanding and acceptance and unbridled love. But regardless, the message transcends all love stories and everyone who has ever been in love or will be in love can understand that it is important to be thinking, feeling humans. It is feeling, after all, that lends our humanity.

I recently watched an interview with Aciman, and the interviewer asked him what the name of the novel meant. Sure, the phrase “Call Me By Your Name” seems odd but with the repetition of “call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine” readers and viewers alike can sense that the name game between Elio and Oliver means something far more than just naming. However, Aciman’s explanation cuts deeper. He explains that this name game is actually a form of intimacy. The name switch transforms Elio and Oliver into one, as in “I am you and you are me and together we are one, unbreakable being.”

I highly recommend both watching the film and reading the novel. Both are incredible and tell a story that doesn’t fit a single category. It’s a love story, it’s a story of sexuality, it’s a story of coming of age, it’s a story of uncertain desire. All of the stories it tells are beautiful and subtle and will leave you aching to know more of Oliver and Elio. I will say I recommend reading the book because a lot of the movie, I realized upon reading the book, relies on non-verbal cues. So much of the film is accomplished through body language and facial expressions and small gestures. By contrast, the novel gives a stream-of-consciousness-like invitation into Elio’s mind as he experiences first love and the decades of ripples that continue from the initial spark.

Truly,

Callie leigh

Speaking at My High School’s Career Day

img_0012

Hello, World.

I was never the person who returned to my high school regularly after graduating. I returned at the end of the summer I graduated, before leaving for college, to pass along some study aids I was getting rid of to teachers. Then I left for college and never really looked back. However, a family friend recently began teaching English at my high school and asked me to speak to his English class about what it was like being an English major in college and how I got into law school. The college counselor heard I was coming, and asked me to come on the high school’s career day. I immediately accepted.

When I first got to campus, high school felt like so long ago. Not to mention the students looked so much younger than I ever remember looking (but most certainly did). It was odd, standing in front of a room full of students and trying to summarize my life in the last six years. Still, it was fun to think about and speak to the ways in which my high school experience informed my college experience and how my college experience informed my law school experience (thus far). Following my speaking at career day, I also took part in an alumni interview for my high school’s recently established newspaper. When people ask me how I got to where I am, I have a pretty set answer, but what the answer doesn’t reflect is that I pretty much winged it for the most part. I naturally like being involved, so I got involved. I’ve always wanted to go to a good school, so I set the bar really high in high school and worked toward achieving that goal. Then in college, I set the bar for law school high and worked hard.

The difference between my high school experience and college experience, however, is that I chose activities that spoke to me as a person. That probably sounds cheesy, and maybe it is, but I stopped doing everything and what I thought would “look good.” Instead, I got involved in things that I thoroughly enjoyed. I learned to say “no” and be more strategic with my time and where I invested it. In sum, everything in my life has worked well and even in the hard moments, the moments that made me question myself, I came out the other side stronger and more in touch with where I wanted to be and who I wanted to become. I’m still figuring out a lot, but as I look back, and as I answered questions from current high school students, I couldn’t help but feel that, thus far, my life is going well and I’m proud of my accomplishments.

Truly,

Callie leigh