Monday, December 15, 2014

The Crockpot Club

It's amazing how quickly we can come to feel inadequate. And by what means we come to feel inadequate. I never thought that I'd say these words, but for me it was...the Crockpot Club.

What is the Crockpot Club, you ask? Oh, just a group of people from work who get together every Thursday and rotate who cooks a crockpot meal. However, it's invite-only. Like a "popular kids" group at work. Initially I found it entertaining, and figured that I didn't know people well enough to join. But after some months passed and my friend who sat next to me received an invite and stopped going to lunch with me because of it, I was surprised at how it affected me.

I was jealous. Angry, even.

I thought, "you can have your stupid Crockpot Club! I'm just going to sit over here with my NEW friends and eat my lunchable and fruit-by-the-foot with my Hi-C orange drink. Hmph. Who do they think they are anyways, with their dumb crockpot meals?" What was I, in middle school again? It was like having horrible flashbacks to every moment in childhood where you were rejected or not chosen to be one of "the chosen". Anyone? Anyone? Anyways, as I sat thinking about this, I realized a few things.

One is that there are people who like to take high school behavior with them into adult life. There is no avoiding it, unfortunately. You'll hear (and sadly be sucked in sometimes) to gossip about "did you see what so-and-so is wearing? Gross." or "can you believe that so-and-so did this?" Also, most of the time people just like to be in their cliques, and they like to have control over those cliques and unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally) create exclusivity where they can. Everyone wants to be a part of something, right? And finally I realized that contrary to what I believed throughout my school years growing up, it's ok to not be a part of that...mainly because A.) I don't like cooking on command and am barely even able to cook for myself most days and B.) I am 25, not 14. I have my own contributions and personality and most sane people will not judge me on whether or not I made it in to Crockpot Club. I generally succeed at life without that accolade to decorate my LinkedIn with.

At the end of the day, I'm grateful for things like the Crockpot Club...because it reminds me of how easy it is to make things exclusive, and how important it is to make people feel on the inside when I can. When you get down to it, we're all just trying to live this crazy life the best way we we might as well try and support each other in it instead of alienate.

I was encouraged to write a post about this on here by my close friend Katie ( She has a wonderful, inspiring blog that you should check out. I am truly honored to know her. And I know that she would always include me in her Crockpot Club.

And it is with these thoughts that I send you off to the rest of the week: remember to be open, and not closed. Be open to including and being surprised by people. I promise it will be worth it.

Enjoy your week, friends. :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

When you just can't find the words.

Today is one of those days where I have this feeling. But I can't put words to it. That's hard for me, because I love finding the perfect words to describe something. It's almost like closure. This, this feeling is unsettling.

Sometimes we just have to sit with it though, when we have no other choice...roll it around for a bit, leave it for awhile, and maybe eventually the words will come.

Also, I'm not going to hold myself to a strict schedule of posting every day. Because where's the fun in that? Thanks for joining me as I push thoughts out there and tease out what this blog wants to be!

Goodnight, friends.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Day 3 - Maintain + Coffee Shop Sundays

Good morning friends.

I woke up this morning and went to a delicious brunch with a good friend. If you are friends with me or follow me at all on Instagram, you know that I love brunch and coffee. If those two words are involved, I will be there...and be there often. I'm ok with that, and I've accepted it. No shame.

On that note, I've actually decided to start a little something called "Coffee Shop Sundays" on here. Whenever I happen to be at a coffee shop on a Sunday, such as today, I'll write about it. A combination review of sorts plus thoughts on life. But let it be known: I am no coffee connoisseur. I just know what tastes good to me and what doesn't, and sometimes I can describe it and sometimes I can't. Am I selling it yet? :) Enjoy.

Location: 1476 South Pearl St, Denver CO 80210
Roaster: Pablo's Coffee
Drink of choice: Soy vanilla latte 

If you know me, you know that one of my absolute favorite coffee shops is Stella's. It's likely that I've already either brought you here or recommended it to you multiple times (you still haven't gone?! You're missing out).

Anyways, it only makes sense that I would start here. This place feels like a home of sorts; maybe because it is a house-turned coffee shop. Or maybe because I was here at least 4 times a week when I lived in Wash Park. Either way, it's a haven for college students, 9-5ers, and every day visitors alike. Each room is unique, with cool local artwork on the walls and books you can read on the shelves. Not to mention an awesome patio. They have italian sodas, pastries, a wide variety of teas, and of course coffee.

And the coffee. Man, so good. Like a hug in a mug. And there's just something awesome about settling in at one of their tables with one of their unique mismatched mugs cradled in your hands. My brain somehow feels more free here, lighter, with more clarity to my thoughts. In these times, while sitting quietly and gazing off with my cup in hand, I get that inexplicable feeling of joy that bubbles up...the feeling that life is grand and anything is possible. I hope you know the feeling. Problems I'm dealing with now? They will pass, they will resolve. Confusion? It will clear. I can see love easier...on the face of a dog as he looks up at his owner, in the eyes of the parent handing their child a cup of hot chocolate, in the smile of the barista. If only I could just sit here forever. Sometimes I try.

Today's resolution is to maintain. From both the surface meaning; maintaining cleanliness in my apartment, maintaining clean clothes, maintaining this blog, and the deeper meaning; maintaining an attitude of looking for the best in everything, maintaining the idea of sufficiency that there is enough and we are enough, and maintaining my sanity as we head into the work week again.

Yesterday was a great day of sitting on the couch, knitting, and working on my blog. Then I emerged in the evening to get drinks and some fresh air. If you didn't notice, I changed my blog layout! I'm excited about tweaking this a bit, and writing more. We'll see how this idea of daily resolutions work with an actual work week...till tomorrow!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Daily Resolutions: Day 2 - Savor the moment

I think this is the first time I've been on my blog two days in a row in a long time! It's the small victories.

Yesterday, my resolution was to stay loved. How did that go? I think pretty well. I sat in my favorite coffee shop up the street for 3 hours, and it was magnificently therapeutic. First off, 3 hours in a coffee shop. Is there anything better? I sat with my blog, debating whether or not to switch platforms, to switch up the layout, or to not do anything. After perusing some blogs for inspiration, I only ended up getting discouraged about what my blog was and what I wanted it to be, if anything. I've never been one to broadcast to the masses. Is this just a meandering effort?

It was at this point that I decided to go through all of my old posts. I have to tell you, I fell in love with my blog again. I fell in love with my initial desires and excitement, and with my voice that came through each post. I think I needed that to appreciate that I've been doing this since October of 2011, which now that I think of it, is a long time for me. I started to get new ideas for my blog, and I think I will eventually change the layout. I haven't gotten to the point of switching platforms, because that's a lot of work that I don't want to think about right now. But I'm thinking something fresh regardless. The point of this blog is process my genuine thoughts about life, and to hopefully give new insight and meaning to not only myself, but others who decide to stumble upon this.

Today's resolution is to savor the moment. As Shauna Niequist says in her book Cold Tangerines, "...this is what I'm finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way." I love that thought, and I mentioned it in yesterday's post as well. If you haven't read that book, I highly recommend it as well as Bittersweet. Shauna has a writing style that draws you in with wonderfully descriptive stories that make you feel like you're there, and a genuine, bright humor about life.

Because really, this is it in the best possible way. It's creamy peanut butter sandwiches at midnight, with the cool linoleum underfoot and the realization that you're alive. It's riding the elevator with pleasant strangers, and walking out the door as friends. It's meeting the sweet older receptionist of my building and having her say "now I know who you are and where you belong". Right now I am sitting on my couch with a cup of my momma's homemade triple chocolate mint hot chocolate. Even just typing that sentence made me smile. :) I hope that you find moments today to savor, friends. Because today, this is it! Love you all.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Daily Resolutions: Day 1 - Stay Loved

Hi friends.

It's been's hard for me to be consistent on this. One thing I want to try is posting daily resolutions. The idea was sparked when I was talking to my friend the other day, and he asked "do you have any new year's resolutions yet?" I thought to myself that no, I hadn't, but maybe I could start thinking about it. Better yet, maybe I should start thinking of daily resolutions to live by now. I always come to the new year as if I'm hopping up to the beginning of a new calendar, with the attitude ,"this is it!" But really I should be coming to each day with that attitude, right?

Anyways, I want to start with this.

Today's resolution will be to stay loved. I'm at a place where my head is off, and my analyzing is at full capacity, and it can turn beautiful days sour in a moment. Today I will make a conscious effort to remember that I am loved, no matter what happens or how I look or how I'm feeling. Stay loved.

"Some days, 24 hours is too much to stay put in, so I take the day hour by hour, moment by moment. I break the task, the challenge, the fear into small, bite-size pieces. I can handle a piece of fear, depression, anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, illness. I actually put my hands up to my face, one next to each eye, like blinders on a horse." - Regina Brett

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." - Leo Tolstoy

This is it.

Monday, October 6, 2014

And the wheels go round: thoughts from the bus

As I sit here riding my new bus from my new place, I am thankful. Soaking this in right now at the end of an insane week.

I love the small communities that can be created in any routine situation. Buses, for example. You see the same people every day, going the same place, and what do you want to make of it? It's easy to sit and zone out with your iPod, which I do most of the time. But lately I've been saying hi to these two older ladies that sit in the same front seat every morning, and  I tell you, it's made a difference and given a lift to my bus rides. It really is the little things. Plus the occasional hilarious overheard conversation about shoes, cats and street sweeping. :)

Here's to the little things, friends! Happy Friday!

Monday, September 15, 2014

On the yoga mat.

Every Monday night, and by every I mean mostly every Monday night, I'm at yoga. My close friend Andrea teaches it, and it's always amazing.

Tonight she asked the class, "how are you feeling?" And we were told to sit with that feeling, to roll it around in our minds a bit. How was I feeling? Mixed. Confused. Defeated, but still going somehow. Resigned. Surface-apathetic. But simultaneously excited about certain things, strangely hopeful. Dealing with a lot of tangled stuff. That simple question sparked another..."who AM I anymore these days?"

Sometimes I feel like I live with all of the actions and reactions available. I know how to act in most situations, and what to say. A socially-written script sometimes come to my mind before my own does. So what is me? Do people know the me I don't? I think about that sometimes. But really I don't want to think, I just want to be. And I want that to be right and ok.

Figuring out what that looks like on a day-to-day basis.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Creativity, let's be friends.

Dear Creativity,

Hi. You might remember me, I often trip over you at the most unexpected moments. I was wondering if you, like, maybe wanted to be actual friends? Sometimes my other friends Realism and Cynicism get so boring, and pretty negative. I try to hang out with my friend Optimism as much as I can, but sometimes they're not available. What I'm saying is, I think we'd get along great. I know it may not seem like it but I promise. It would be a whole lot better than stumbling into you every now and then, even though I'm usually gratefully surprised. I want to be intentional. Please circle YES or NO below.


NO (don't circle this one)


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Don't be so critical.

On Thursday this last week, I sang. I sang and played guitar in front of everyone I work with. It may sound terrifying to a lot of you, but to me the thought was exhilarating. It reminded me of some of the best times of my life singing in front of more than a hundred students at my college church. This particular event was a talent show.

I was stoked for it, and was feeling good up until I sat up on that high stool in front of my 50+ co-workers. Then my physical anxiety symptoms took over; my hands and legs started shaking, my voice felt like it was quivering, and I thought I was going to stop playing at one point. Towards the end I kind of blacked out...I just kept playing and singing despite knowing what I was playing or singing. Only trusting that I could make it to the end. I did, thankfully. And when I finished everyone's applause was thunderous and supportive. My immediate thoughts of myself were disappointment. Although I smiled and bowed, all I could think of was "They're just being nice. I could've done better. I know I've done so much better".

Everyone came up and gave me what I hoped were genuine compliments. I tried to find some sort of hole in them as I said how I got more nervous than I expected and searched their faces for some sort of truth they were hiding. Alas, I found none. I put everyone's compliments up against my own criticism, and somehow found their compliments gradually winning out. Not completely, though. And it made me realize how hard I am on myself. But why?

I think too much. I think about thinking. I analyze my thoughts into 1000 different interpretations that likely don't exist. It takes so much energy! Too much energy. Instead of disappointment, I will shift my thinking to accomplishment. I did something I'm passionate about in front of people I interact with every day. I did better than I thought I did, and I felt like I showed a piece of myself that feels closest to who I am and at the same time doesn't get shown enough. Those compliments meant so much to me, and I am thankful for them. I am thankful for everyone who has encouraged me to share my singing, because I remember a time when I only did it in the car and the shower. I want to do more with it somehow...and I feel like I will someday.

Bottom line is, don't be so hard on yourself. The critical way you see things could be completely different from how they actually are, and you essentially sabotage yourself. Be on your own side for once, and choose you.

Monday, May 26, 2014


"Is that the loudest you can talk??"

A coworker, slightly drunk, asked me this as I was answering another coworker while we were out for drinks at a bar last week. Followed sharply by, "you're so quiet! In everything you do!" [she had commented on my quiet typing at work the day before]. Instead of an observation, it was presented as an insult...a flaw. Wha?

Hmmm. Honestly, it made me realize how much I've heard that over the years. And also how much I dislike it.

You know why?

Because I don't want to be defined. 

I had an epiphany a few weeks ago that I can refuse to be defined. All of my life I've been known as the "good girl", the "quiet one", the "observer". Although I do have some of the qualities that make up those definitions, they are not the sum of who I am. Those phrases limit me to other people, because when you say I'm a "good girl" everyone has an idea of what that means to them. It usually tends to mean that I've never heard a curse word in my life, and I don't know what pain is, and I've never done anything bad. The "quiet one" or "observer" can mean that I don't know how to interact in a group, I keep to myself with a very limited social life, and I'm shy, passive, and afraid.

I can be quiet, analytical, observant, practical and kind, and I can also be loud, random, funny, spontaneous and impulsive. Just ask my close friends. Why limit someone? Why limit yourself?

I just want to BE...and not have it traced back to any kind of persona. So, I'm learning what it looks like day by day to release the definitions that have stuck to me over the years; the definitions that I've been limited by, and have grown out of. Once you stop limiting yourself to these interpretations given to you by others, comments that seem to attack personal qualities tend to showcase the insecurities of the person making them.

Own the core of who you believe yourself to be, and take the input of close friends and use it for growth. But never let other people define you. This is a lesson I have to teach myself daily.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Roots. Defined as the "part of a plant that attaches it to the ground or to a support...conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant". I like this definition, because when I think of being rooted I think of being supported, and that support gives me nourishment and I feel refreshed. It's also defined as "the basic cause, source, or origin of something". Being back at my parents' house, I feel like this has been a great source of support and renewal in this crazy time in my twenties. I'm SO thankful for it.

Today has been a grounding day. I've gotten to hang out with my mom, sister and sister-in-law, then chat with our neighbors in the driveway. I can't even tell you how long it's been since I've just stood in the driveway talking to the people that live around us. And that used to happen all the time it felt like! We reminisced about old neighbors, speculated about new neighbors, and sat with the memories of growing up. It felt like the reel of life in our neighborhood was playing before my eyes as I looked around at the familiar houses; scooter and bike races down the cul-de-sac driveways, the nights of playing hide-and-seek tag in the dark, the day that there was a huge rainstorm and the fire hydrant across the street exploded into a fantastic fountain that we played in for hours. Sleepovers. Bus rides. Secret clubs that were never really a secret. Roots.

It's nice to be reminded of where you came from. It's easy for me to think of the day to day and feel really...surface. Like all I am is what I'm doing that day. But then I have conversations and I sit with people who have seen me run the spectrum of emotions and experience, and I remember that I am much more than what I have or what I'm doing at that time in life. I am made up of a multitude of experiences, characteristics of people I've met, and awesome interests and idiosyncrasies. I feel whole.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Sitting here in my favorite coffee shop, I feel it.

It. That familiar electricity that comes with nice weather and new beginnings. That joy that creeps up in the small moments; when your heart begins to unfold and face the sun. I just want to sit here, cradle my cup of coffee and let the possibility and excitement sink in.

It feels like I've been in a long winter. I've been in a complete haze where the smallest task felt like the biggest obstacle. Not that things haven't gone well for me the past year, they've been great and there have been many more great moments than bad ones. But this haze was like a blanket over that, making the great moments a little tainted with an unexplainable weight.

But now, that blanket is slipping off and I feel lighter than I have in a long time. I have a new opportunity coming my way and a lot of changes on the horizon. I can't wait!

Spring, I have been waiting for you. And it looks like you've been waiting for me too.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Honest & Genuine.

I wrote the below in my journal the other night. Sometimes I fall into a different space when I write, a space where my heart flows to my pen before my brain really has a chance to think about it. It was one of those entries that I went back to read, and was surprised by the words that had come from me. As if I was reading someone else's words and thinking "yes! That's exactly how I feel!...wait a second, that's me"...funny how that works. So here it is:

"I am beyond restless. I want to scream to the world what is true. I want to demand truth from others. I want love and beauty to come from honesty. I want results. I want my honesty to be their honesty. We come to realize that we mean the same thing.

Unfortunately, that's extremely hard to come by."

I try to be honest with my feelings and genuine in my interactions with people. And I feel like you can never go wrong when you do that, because you're going with your grain instead of against it. Behind all of the weather talk and quick "how are you's", there are people. Actual human beings that deserve to be known and paid attention to. And they probably don't even realize that they want or need that until someone makes that effort to ask "how is your day going?" vs. "how are you?". I've had some of the best and most surprising conversations with the sales associates/baristas/receptionists/everyday people just by making that simple switch.

In this tech-saturated world (guilty: I currently am on my Mac with my iPhone next to me), it's even more important that we fight to know people. Fight to break that barrier and tap in to actually connect. I also truly believe, and have experienced, that honesty and genuineness can beget honesty and genuineness.

So here's to honesty, friends. May you be honest with yourselves and genuine in your interactions with others.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I'm realizing some things.

Life is big.
We put it into a tiny, tiny box.
We live in that box, thinking that it's all we have...when there's this small ache telling us that there's more.
We realize that the only limits to our lives are the ones that we put there.
Sometimes the life that comes with truly living exists outside of those limits.

This week, I'm on a stay-cation. Which in my opinion can be so much more valuable and refreshing than a typical vacation, because instead of not going to work because you're going somewhere else, you're not going to work and staying where you normally are. Then it really feels like you're on a vacation because there's absolutely nothing new you need to worry about. I'm only on day two, and I'm happier than I've been in a long time. I'm not necessarily saying that it's because I'm not working...that's a huge part. But it's also giving me time to do other things, like join a gym, and sit in coffee shops and blog. This week my goal is to figure out who and where I want to be right now, without anyone else's input. When you discover that, you thrive...and then everything else falls into place.

Could be easier said than done, but you never know until you try.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Day 24: Color Scheme

Well friends, I did it...I set down my iPhone and picked up my beloved camera again. Back in 2012 I started my second photography challenge, and I've decided that it's about time that I finish it.

To new beginnings and renewed interests.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why can it be so hard to be alone?

Tonight I came home and found myself without plans. When faced with a night like this, I usually have one of two experiences. I either revel in it and soak up the time to myself, or I freak out a little bit. Unfortunately, it tends to be the latter experience recently. But why?

Usually I am pro-solitude. I seek it often in coffee shops and books and runs. But this kind of solitude, this one that I don't voluntarily gets to me. It puts me on the verge of paranoia or depression. Or both. I think this quote describes it perfectly, which I've actually referenced in a prior post as well:

“There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall.”

-Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

I come home from work tired, drained, and deeply restless. I find myself in the house alone; everyone else has other plans. I begin to think about what I can's one of those nights where nothing sounds appealing. I begin to text a few people halfheartedly, but I've done this dance before. I can feel the desperation creep up...where is this coming from? It feels like a twisting of my stomach as the thoughts start to come up and morph into the worst kind of lies. The realistic-sounding ones. The ones that tell me I'm lacking in something. The ones that tell me my life is lackluster, and that I'll always find myself in these lonely places of restlessness. Nevermind that I have plans with amazing friends 80% of the time, it's the 20% that can somehow inflate and overshadow everything else. And really, am I making the most of that time with friends? What if it was trimmed down to 100% investment into half the amount of people? I'd rather be the best friend I can be to a smaller number of people.

Thoughts turn to social media. Every minute I press to open the apps...Facebook, Instagram, Tinder...looking for some sort of affirmation. Mindlessly swipe, swipe, swipe, match? How many likes do I have on my picture? Should I post a status? All of it working towards a false sense of intimacy and validation. Eyes search the screen as if it can satisfy, but it only leaves me mostly empty.

I think what it comes down to is that I've been struggling lately with not having a person. I've had this person before, where you're so close that you think the same thoughts and being together is as easy as breathing. Laughter is your language and going to the grocery store can be the time of your life. It's hard to find, and sometimes complicated to keep. On nights like this, all I can do is think about how I don't have that, and how much easier a night like this would be if I did.

This will pass, as all things do, but if there is anything that I have learned in my many years of self-analysis, it is that it's valuable to sit with this for a little bit. Face it, understand it, and then when you're ready, move past it. Because it might not be the last time it comes around, and maybe next time it will be a little bit easier.

I never really know who I'm writing to on this blog. I'm not the "promoter" type, because this is vulnerable for me. I want people to stumble upon it because they want to, instead of putting myself out there to be open to criticism or worse...silence. I've included it on my public Instagram because maybe someone will find something from it. Is it too personal to invite strangers to? Maybe some earlier posts. But really, sometimes those posts are the ones who speak to people the most. Then again, I could be writing to myself on here. That's ok too.

Whether this post is read by a hundred people or just one, thank you for reading. I appreciate you.

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Twenty-Five" by Shauna Niequist

"Here are a few thoughts on being twenty-five-ish, some that I knew, because smart older people gave me good advice, and some that I really wish I had known, that those smart older people probably did tell me, and that I lost track of along the way.
I know that age is, of course, one of the most arbitrary ways of measuring a person. I have friends in their sixties who continually teach me about discovery and possibility, and friends in their young twenties who are as crotchety and set in their ways as Archie Bunker. Age, like numbers on a scale and letters on a report card, tells us very little of who we are. You decide every year exactly how young and how old you want to be.

When you’re twenty-five-ish, you’re old enough to know what kind of music you love, regardless of what your last boyfriend or roommate always used to play. You know how to walk in heels, how to tie a necktie, how to give a good toast at a wedding, and how to make something for dinner. You don’t have to think much about skin care, home ownership, or your retirement plan.

Your life can look a lot of different ways when you’re twenty-five: single, dating, engaged, married. You are working in dream jobs, pay-the-bills jobs, and downright horrible jobs. You are young enough to believe that anything is possible, and you are old enough to make that belief a reality.

Now is the time to figure out what kind of work you love to do. What are you good at? What makes you feel alive? What do you dream about? You can go back to school now, switch directions entirely. You can work for almost nothing, or live in another country, or volunteer long hours for something that moves you. There will be a time when finances and schedules make this a little trickier, so do it now. Try it, apply for it, get up and do it.

When I was twenty-five, I was in my third job in as many years—all in the same area at a church, but the responsibilities were different each time. I was frustrated at the end of the third year, because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do next. I didn’t feel like I’d found my place yet. I met with my boss, who was in his fifties. I told him how anxious I was about finding the one perfect job for me, and quick. He asked me how old I was, and when I told him I was twenty-five, he told me that I couldn’t complain to him about finding the right job until I was thirty-two. In his opinion, it takes about ten years after college to find the right fit, and anyone who finds it earlier than that is just plain lucky.

So use every bit of your ten years: try things, take classes, start over. One of my oldest friends, Jenny, got a degree in child psychology from Harvard, and has worked for years at a bunch of fancy companies as a client account manager. A few years ago, she finally realized that what she’s always loved is helping to heal people through massage. Now after work and on weekends, she’s the world’s best-educated massage therapist, building up her clientele with every passing month, and happier than she’s ever been.

My dear friend Rachel has been a makeup artist since she was eighteen, and after ten years, she decided that what she really wants to be is a therapist. So she’s doing it now, getting her bachelor’s degree, making plans for her master’s, doing makeup all the while to pay for school. That’s what this time is for, to figure those things out.

Now is also the time to get serious about relationships. And “serious” might mean walking away from the ones that don’t give you everything you need. Some of the most life-shaping decisions you make in this season will be about walking away from good-enough, in search of can’t-live-without. One of the only truly devastating mistakes you can make in this season is staying with the wrong person even though you know he or she is the wrong person. It’s not fair to that person, and it’s not fair to you.

My friend Chrissie and her boyfriend were together for ten years, since college. He’s a great guy, but throughout their relationship, several people had told Chrissie that they observed a fundamental mismatch. They didn’t fit together like puzzle pieces. They didn’t fit together at all. But she stayed, out of love and hope and commitment, and then he proposed. And they just couldn’t get the wedding planned. They couldn’t agree on where or when or how many people, so they stopped planning for a while. In the meantime, she went to South Africa with a group from our church to work with AIDS orphans, and while she was there, she felt alive and full of purpose for the first time in years. When she returned, her fiancé wasn’t all that interested in hearing about it.

All the things her friends had been saying for years clicked into place, and a few weeks later, she gave back the ring. She’s literally like a new person these days, full of bright energy, hope, clarity. And those things are worth a whole lot more than a diamond from the wrong man, even if he’s a really good man, like this one was.

Twenty-five is also a great time to start counseling, if you haven’t already, and it might be a good round two of counseling if it’s been awhile. You might have just enough space from your parents to start digging around your childhood a little bit. Unravel the knots that keep you from living a healthy whole life, and do it now, before any more time passes.

Twenty-five is the perfect time to get involved in a church that you love, no matter how different it is from the one you were a part of growing up. Be patient and prayerful, and decide that you’re going to be a person who grows, who seeks your own faith, who lives with intention. Set your alarm on Sunday mornings, no matter how late you were out on Saturday night. It will be dreadful at first, and then after a few weeks, you’ll find that you like it, that the pattern of it fills up something inside you.

Try different kinds of communities, different sizes and denominations and traditions. My friend Monica grew up in a community church in Northern California, and now she’s an elder at a Lutheran church in Reno because she appreciates the history and structure of this new context. Our friends Kelly and Amy grew up in nondenominational churches, and now have spent a number of years as passionate volunteers at the Presbyterian church in their neighborhood.

I know that most people need a season of space, a time to take a step back and evaluate the spiritual context of their youth. I didn’t go to church for a long season in college, and that space and freedom was so important for me. It gave me the perspective I needed to find my own faith. But it’s very easy for a season of space to turn into several years without any kind of spiritual groundedness. It’s easy to wake up several years from now and find yourself unable to locate that precious, faith-filled part of your heart and history, because it slowly disintegrated over months and years. Don’t do that. Do whatever you have to do to connect with God in a way that feels authentic and truthful to you. Do it now, so that you don’t regret the person you become, little by little, over time, without it.

This is the thing: when you start to hit twenty-eight or thirty, everything starts to divide, and you can see very clearly two kinds of people: on one side, people who have used their twenties to learn and grow, to find God and themselves and their deep dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults.

And then there’s the other kind, who are hanging on to college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate because they’re too scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great because they don’t want to be lonely. They mean to find a church, they mean to develop honest, intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in kind of an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than they were when they graduated college.

Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. Walk away, try something new. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either.

Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal. Ask yourself some good questions like, Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? What have I learned about God this year? What parts of my childhood faith am I leaving behind, and what parts am I choosing to keep with me for this leg of the journey? Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that’s keeping me from moving forward?

These years will pass much more quickly than you think they will. You will go to lots of weddings, and my advice, of course, is to dance your pants off at every single one. I hope you go to very few funerals. You’ll watch TV and run on the treadmill and go on dates, some of them great and some of them terrible. Time will pass, and all of a sudden, things will begin to feel a little more serious. You won’t be old, of course. But you will want to have some things figured out, and the most important things only get figured out if you dive into them now.

For a while in my early twenties I felt like I woke up a different person every day, and was constantly confused about which one, if any, was the real me. I feel more and more like myself with each passing year, for better and for worse, and you’ll find that, too. Every year, you will trade a little of your perfect skin and your ability to look great without exercising for wisdom and peace and groundedness, and every year the trade will be worth it. I promise.

Now is your time. Become, believe, try. Walk closely with people you love, and with other people who believe that God is very good and life is a grand adventure. Don’t spend time with people who make you feel like less than you are. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path."

Taken from Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. Copyright © 2010.