Becoming Your Best Self: Thoughts on Improving Ourselves

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Hello, World.

Most of us are striving to become the best versions of ourselves, and that’s really what life is about, isn’t it? Getting to a point where you can stand up and say, “I’m living my life how I want to live it and I like the person I am.” There are moments throughout our lives where we reflect on where we’re going, what we’re doing, who we’re surrounding ourselves with, and I think those moments prove pivotal. Reflection is what allows us to determine if we are doing what we want or if we’re hanging out with people who bring love and positivity into our lives or simply drama and negativity.  Today I want to share my thoughts on how we become our best selves.

I believe that becoming your best self is fluid and doesn’t really have a clear end point. It’s not mathematical. You can’t say, “at 25 or 31 or 45 I will be my best self if I add love subtract toxic friendship and multiply by career success.” Rather, it’s a fluid process that never truly ends. We can always be better and we can always grow more. While it’s not clearly mathematical when you will be your best self, I do think having more of one thing and less of another will enhance your life, making you happier and a better you. I am happier when I’m active. I like having people in my life who support me and who don’t bring unnecessary drama to the table. I think most people would agree such factors make them happier. However, happiness is just one aspect of being your best self. While happiness is crucial, I also argue that unhappiness also makes us better. When we experience negative things, it exposes us to situations that can make us stronger, more empathetic and more self-aware.

Some of the biggest learning experiences in my life did not come from moments of pure joy, they came from moments of heartache. Learning how you react to certain situations, how you handle stress, how you handle discomfort is a major step in learning who you are and whether that is who you want to be. I think in order to become your best self you have to take risks; you have to be willing to be let down or disappointed. In moments of frustration or moments of feeling defeated, we are able to begin again. We can reevaluate, understand any shortcomings, and bounce back stronger than ever. Or, we can simply crumble. I reiterate this theme a lot in my posts, but it’s because I feel it’s an important one: It’s not whether we fail, it’s how we respond to the failures.

I think a crucial part of being your best self is surrounding yourself with good people who make you better. I was recently out with friends and this rumor that circulated the law school during the first few weeks of the semester came up in conversation. I asked about its validity and the guy I asked essentially called me out. His face and demeanor said something like, “really? Are you serious or is this a joke? How immature are we?” I immediately froze, in part because I was caught off guard, and in part because I appreciated the moment. It’d been far too long since someone called people on gossip and talking about people. We’re all in law school, shouldn’t our conversations be a little more…elevated? Or at least not so immature in nature? In that moment I was thankful that someone reminded me that indulging in gossip isn’t worth our time and isn’t actually the norm in some circles. What. A. Breath. Of. Fresh. Air. So, my point in relaying this story is to say that who we surround ourselves with can greatly impact who we are. Did I spend my undergraduate days asking about rumors floating around regarding people I didn’t even know? No. So, becoming our best selves also requires us to be around people who make us better, and who encourage us to refrain from negative interactions (like spreading, even if inadvertently, rumors we hear).

When we know there is something we’re unhappy with or want to change, we should change it. We need to take active steps in making a change and moving toward becoming better. So, while it’s not mathematical per se, our best selves exist somewhere where we have better people in our lives, where we feel happy, and where we make an active change to the aspects of our lives that we feel are inhibiting our personal growth.

How do you work towards becoming a better person?

Truly,

Callie leigh

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Why the First Year After College is Hard

Hello, World.

When I graduated college last May, I felt like I had reached this amazing ending, and was so excited for a new beginning in law school. I thought “I just need to finish college, and the world will open up.” I was wrong. The world was already open to me, and I think the amazing thing about college is that you’re an adult, living on your own, getting your life “together,” but you also aren’t fully an adult yet. You don’t, necessarily, have the responsibilities of full blown adulthood. I realize I’ve talked about this before, but today I wanted to share a more in-depth analysis of why the first year out of college is one of the hardest.

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I was recently lamenting how nostalgic I am for college days, which is a feeling I’m not used to. I’m typically a somewhat unattached person. Usually, by the end of my time somewhere, I feel prepared to move on. And that’s what’s funny about college. I felt so ready to move on while I was in college, but now I would give just about anything to experience senior spring for just a day again. Anyway, I was lamenting my feelings to a friend of mine from law school, who lived in Russia for a year after college but before beginning law school. She was saying she was talking to a friend while she was in Russia, and both were really struggling. Typically I’d say it probably had to do with Russia, but she said most of her friends felt weird their first year after college.

I think most of the discontent comes from the feeling of loss. I spent four years creating a life, a family, a community at a college, and then left it for something totally new. Most of my college friends (read: all) don’t live nearby, and I don’t get to see them everyday. That’s a hard adjustment. Couple not seeing my favorite people everyday with being in a totally new place with totally new people, and it’s not easy. Additionally, we start feeling really displaced. It’s like, “hey, I had a home! Hey, I had a routine. Hey, I knew who I was and what I wanted!” and now… I don’t. I feel displaced, lost, roaming aimlessly trying to remember why I started what I’m currently doing because I’d rather just be jumping in my friends car, and heading to get Chinese food, followed by cheap beer and karaoke at the terrible, but close bar near campus. I’m not trying to be dramatic, or make those about to finish college feel like they should purposely fail a class so they don’t have to leave (though it is oh so tempting).

The thing is, I knew that no matter what I did or where I went after graduating Saint Mary’s was going to feel a bit inadequate. Saint Mary’s is so unique, so community based, so close-knit, that I felt like the support system I had there, the environment, wouldn’t be easily replicated once I left. While I do love Virginia, and am thankful for the friends I have here, I do find myself drifting back to Saint Mary’s when I have a second to let my mind wander. The reality is this: most people struggle to find their footing the year immediately following college. People used to tell me “make it last. See if you can stay a few extra years” and I would laugh, not really getting why they’d say that. One of the reasons I chose SMC was the guarantee I’d be out in four years. But now I get it. Four years is nothing. Four years is so fleeting… it’s not about making it last, it’s about making the most of it.

Pack your four years with so much goodness, so many memories, so many late nights, so many dumb decisions, so many “why the hell nots” that you feel like you really discovered who you are, what you want, and who matters to you. Remember why you started, stay up until the sun rises, go after that boy who makes your stomach turn, forgive the silly boy from freshman year your sophomore year, laugh until your eyes water your best friends, drink too many jack and cokes and sing that Kanye song you don’t know the lyrics to. Pretend you want to watch another episode of some random Netflix show just to spend a little extra time with someone who makes you laugh. Because soon it’ll be gone. The irresponsibility of responsibility that is college will pass, and then there will just be responsibility. So, for those of you still in college, make the most of it.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with being out of college. On Monday, all the SMC seniors were posting pictures about their last first day of school, and it made me feel so nostalgic because if only I could go back and whisper to myself: make every second matter. Make every second last because there are less of them than you think. I think a lot of my decisions my last semester of college were driven by fear of the unknown, but also the knowledge that I wouldn’t be back at SMC in the fall, prepping another residence hall for move in. I was so scared to say goodbye to college; I wanted to keep every little thing as long as I possibly could until the inevitability of parting ways was too close to ignore any longer.

So, all of that is to say that the first year after college is disorienting, and can be a real struggle. But, there is hope and positivity and good times left to be had. However, college is such a unique, special experience, and I will forever be grateful that I spent four years at such an amazing, supportive, comforting place. I miss it daily, am a little jealous of those people still spending time there, and cannot wait to return [I will be at graduation this year to see my favorite duty partners graduate].

Truly,
Callie leigh

2016 Highlights

Hello, World.

I feel like reflections are important, so I like to take a little time at the close of various aspects of life — academic, years, birthdays, etc. — to evaluate where I’m at and where I hope to go from the end of something. 2016 was a crazy year, and I think most people had very mixed feelings about it! However, I think when looking internally at how the year went for me personally, it was a pretty landmark year for a few reasons. First, I graduated college (!!) and then I moved across the country to begin law school at my dream school. My sister is pregnant, and about to welcome her first child!

I feel like 2016 was a year of change for me. In many ways, my life changed fairly drastically. For one, I definitely was not used to going five months without seeing my family, and to be honest I didn’t handle it as well as I thought I would. It’s also an adjustment going from being an overly-involved, high GPA senior in college to a bumbling, unsure and intimidated 1L in law school.

So, anyway, I wanted to share the best moments of 2016.

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Applying and getting in to law school was SO stressful. I was anxious I wouldn’t get in to a school I really wanted to go to, and then I kept fearing that if I did get in, I’d realize I was crazy for thinking law school was the right decision for me, and decide I made a mistake. Now, with a semester behind me, I feel like law school is going well, but it is hard and not the funnest way to spend your time. While I like the work, and I love William and Mary, I do appreciate creative outlets.IMG_4030

I graduated from Saint Mary’s and said goodbye to my gael family there. I miss so many of the people I spent time with there, and it’s hard because after five months away from CA, I really want to soak up every minute with my family. I do hope to see some of my SMC people, though, before I go back to VA!

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I started my first semester of law school, which was so scary and exciting! I have a goals sheet for the next semester, things I hope to do better or differently. I think there is always room for improvement, so I want to make sure that I can improve in my second semester, and get a better hold on the rhythm.

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I finished my first semester of law school! This was a big accomplishment. It’s weird how things seem nearly impossible, and so intimidating, but as time passes, and you flex certain muscles, it becomes easier and more clear and more understandable. I’m glad the first semester is behind me, and I imagine that the future semesters will feel different purely because I’ve already survived the first one! Now to get a summer job…

Anyway, 2016 was a good year for my academic and professional life! It was also a good year for my personal life, but I think 2017 will be a better year for a few reasons, which I plan to flesh out more fully in a future post.

How was 2016 for you?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Getting Candid about Imposter Syndrome

Hello, World.

A few weeks ago I went to a luncheon on imposter syndrome, and it really struck a cord. My friends who are also in law school or continuing their education in some other way have mentioned feeling imposter syndrome before many times. Prior to applying to law school, I wasn’t overly aware of imposter syndrome. Sure, I had feelings of self-doubt, and sometimes felt like I was stumbling through things, and just getting lucky when something worked out. But lately, the feelings of self-doubt are more present. They’re more consistently floating through my mind, and some days I feel like maybe I’ve made a mistake in pursuing law, and I should be doing something different. However, I think there are ways to combat imposter syndrome that allow you to embrace insecurity while still pursuing your dreams.

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I think a common pitfall of imposter syndrome is comparison. I end up comparing myself to so many people, even when I consciously remind myself that it’s unhealthy and that I shouldn’t. It’s so easy to end up comparing yourself to others. Whether its in the morning, while you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, and seeing people whose lives seem too perfect, or whether it’s when you’re sitting in class, and everyone seems to be understanding while the information is passing through your head like Latin, or maybe you compare yourself to others while just walking around, seeing people who you perceive as skinnier or prettier than you. Whatever form comparison takes, you end up doing it. And sometimes it can just amplify any feelings you’re already having about not being good enough or feeling like you’re not actually supposed to be where you are.

I asked a few friends recently how they would define imposter syndrome. One texted me back and said, “It’s the feeling that you’re here on a fluke. Like you’re faking it and everyone else has their shit together and knows what they are doing.” And I actually sighed a sigh of relief because it was so on point, and made me feel like maybe other people are feeling it too. Another friend said, “You think you’re not really there by merit and everyone else is floating by and you’re out of place.” The worst part of imposter syndrome is feeling like you’re the only one feeling it, when in reality there are so many people who feel that way.

Academia was not something I was born into. Being naturally smart wasn’t something I considered myself to be when I was young. I struggled, I got tutors, I took reading comprehension classes, I took LSAT prep classes, and I studied hard because it wasn’t easy, not because I just enjoy studying so hard. Yes, I love academia, and I love learning, but sometimes I felt like links were missing when I was growing up, and it was hard for me to fully comprehend every little intricacy put in front of me. I was the first of 15 grandchildren to graduate a four year university in four years. When I learned to read, that’s all I did. I taught myself a lot, like how to use a computer. In my family, academia was encouraged, but wasn’t necessarily expected, especially not at the level I wanted to achieve it. So, I always felt a bit disadvantaged. I felt like maybe everyone else was getting something I wasn’t. But then I realized that that’s not true. We all have so much to offer, and we have so many things that make us individually strong. But, when we are in situations, like law school or college or our new job, it’s so easy to feel inadequate and feel like you’re an imposter in the situation. You’re playing dress up, but you’ll wake up tomorrow and this won’t be your life. When you get hired for that job, or get the promotion you’ve been working so hard for, don’t question it. I know, if you’re like me, you will, but TRY to force yourself to just accept it and be thankful.

Truly,
Callie leigh