Am I Successful? And Other Burning Career Questions

navy blue sweater

SUCCESS. This is something I’ve been struggling with here lately. What does it look like for me? Is it different for everyone? How do I define it? All these questions and more have been running through my mind because I’ve come to a point in my life where I have to ask myself, “am I happy?” The truth is, I don’t know! I suspect other women in their mid-20s are asking themselves the same thing. So let’s deep dive into “success” not only from a career stand-point, but also from a mental health perspective!

Quarter-Life Crisis

What am I doing with my life? Is it meaningful? Do I enjoy it? These are all questions I’ve asked myself recently. To be clear, I’m not questioning getting married or if I have enough friends or the right ones; I’m questioning my career choices. I work in the marketing industry as a Marketing Manager. I like what I do. I think. But it isn’t what I thought I’d be doing.

Full transparency here: At 17 years old I wanted to work in politics and change the world. By the time I turned 21, I said “to heck with that” and decided to pursue other interests. I’m glad I did that. However, I’m honestly not sure how I got to where I am now. I didn’t purposely choose marketing, it chose me. And thus begins my quarter-life crisis, if you want to call it that.

Finding the Right Job

I feel like in your early twenties, your choices of jobs are little less curated and a little more take what you can get. But towards the end of your twenties, when you have some experience under your belt, you get to be a little more picky. And that’s where I am right now. What do I do next and who do I want to work for? I’d like to stay within the marketing industry, as I feel I’m pretty darn good at what I do. But working for the right people makes a huge difference! Having worked for several companies now, I know what I like and what I don’t.

  • I like companies that trust their employees and don’t micromanage.
  • I like companies that value charity and helping the community.
  • I like companies that are flexible with working from home from time to time and put an emphasis on work-life balance.
  • I do not like companies that think you aren’t able to work unless you’re sitting in a cubicle.
  • I don’t like companies that have stringent vacation time policies and only give a day off at Christmas and Thanksgiving.
  • I don’t like companies that don’t value new ideas and planning for the future.

There are a lot of good and bad places to work. So as I look to my next move in my career, I’ll be a little more picky. I want to go somewhere that I can be successful and VALUED.

Am I successful?

I’ve also been asking myself for awhile now, “am I as successful as I should be?” This is a hard question to answer because success is different to everyone. For the sake of this blog post, I”m defining success as “the ability to make executive decisions in your role and being paid in correlation to the difficulty of those decisions.”

My role has totally changed since I was first hired. A lot. I’ve taken on more responsibility and started leading and making directional decisions. I honestly love that! So in terms of leading and finding new opportunities within my role, I’m successful. But, as many young women (and sometimes men) find, I’m not being rewarded for the risks and responsibilities.

Talking to other young professionals about their job roles, salary, benefits, and work environment has shown me that often times, we undercut ourselves! You can be young and successful, but you have to see the value in yourself before anyone else will. With that in mind, I can affirm that I’ve only been successful in terms of the responsibility I have in my role. Not much else.

What About Mental Health?

Ahhhh… mental health in the workplace. It’s so important and I think employers are finally understanding that. But I think there’s more to mental health than not crying at your desk every day. For me, my mental health tends to take a hit when I’m being overloaded with work or when I don’t feel like I’m being heard or respected. It’s demoralizing and exhausting.

Working somewhere that understands the amount of time and effort that goes into a single task or project is so important to being successful within that company. Working for people with experience and know-how can make or break your mental health.

I think we can all agree that no company is going to be absolutely perfect and some days you’ll feel more drained than others. But when every day becomes an energy drain and you feel defeated, that isn’t healthy.

Ok, Now What?

This is so hard for me to answer for myself, let alone you! I will tell you that if any of this resonated with you, then maybe it’s time to go somewhere new or try something new! As I was writing this, I couldn’t tell if I was writing it for myself or for my readers. I think it’s a little of both because we’ve all been here!

Personally, I’m going to pray about it and then make some decisions. The world is my oyster as my mom says!

 

Self-Care During Waves of Depression

Hey everyone! I really wanted to chat about something that I’ve been dealing with more frequently in recent weeks- waves of depression and anxiety. I touch on mental health topics occasionally and I’m trying to make it a more frequent topic because everyone seems to really identify with it.

As I get closer to my wedding day (a week away!) I’m finding myself more and more susceptible to waves of depression that ebb and flow like the tide. It really sucks. And trying to help those around you understand it can make the depression even worse. David tries to understand what I’m going through, but until you’ve experienced clinical depression, it’s pretty hard to grasp. You can’t rely on others to fix you or help you cope- you have to put in the effort to help yourself! So I’ve discovered that self-care is a key part of dealing with depression waves! Here are my favorite self-care tips and activities.

Take a Deep Breath and Accept It

I always struggle with the feeling I get when a wave of depression is cresting. I try to fight it. I force myself to smile. Nothing works. I’ve noticed that the easiest way to cope with that cresting wave, is to accept it. Allow it to crash. I take some time to breathe deeply and embrace how I’m feeling. It takes so much energy to try and fight off the inevitable. In my experience, sitting down quietly and meditating on the feeling works wonders.

Care for Your Body

I hate when people suggest to exercise or get out of the house to combat depression. Sometimes it’s literally too hard to get out of bed and do anything, let alone something that involves physical exertion. I like to start by caring for my body by simply rubbing some lotion on my arms and legs and hydrating my skin. I take my time doing this and pay attention to sore muscles.

Usually, I get myself out of bed and grab a cup of hot tea to relax. There’s something about tea that just warms your whole spirit. Peppermint is my favorite! I sip slowly and thoughtfully, embracing what I’m feeling- Riding the wave so to speak.

Try Something Small

I NEVER force myself to take on a big task when I’m depressed. That can overwhelm and make me anxious that I won’t be able to do it. I like to do small things like picking up laundry that’s on the floor or opening the windows for fresh air. I like to do a few small things as I can. Slowly, this tends to brings me out of the shadow of depression. But be careful not to push too much, let your body really guide you through this. If you feel tired, sit down and rest, then try again. This is a process. Sometimes it lasts hours, and then other times it can be days. Feel it out.

Depression, I believe, is still a mystery for doctors and scientists. There’s a lot more to discover. The mind-body connection is very real and only a small amount is known about it. That’s why I like to share with others how depression makes my physical body hurt, not just mind. I also like to share my thoughts on how I cope with it and what works to get through the wave of depression. The more information out there, the closer we are to finding a cure.

How I’m Beating Body Image Issues in Time for My Wedding

Leopard print dress

Oh my goodness guys, this is a hard post to write! I’ve never shied away from talking about mental health issues as I think its important to normalize talking about it. BUT, when it comes to talking about how I feel about my body and how I look- YIKES. That’s hard. It’s hard to admit I struggle with it (even though most people do to a degree).  And what I’m about to type is even harder to admit. I’ve always thought I was fat. Yep, there, I said it! I really have thought that for a long time and with my wedding coming up, it’s only been amplified.

My Ahaa! Moment

Every bride feels like she has to be perfect on her wedding day. Hair, makeup, body. Everything. For me, putting on that wedding dress was going to be the battle of my lifetime. Will it zip? Will I look fat? Will my back fat hang over my dress?!

I went for my first fitting with a seamstress and I put on my wedding dress for her to nip and tuck where appropriate. She told me that I needed some extra support “up there” if the dress was going to look right. I put the corset on that she gave me and looked in the mirror completely horrified. WHERE DID MY WAIST GO!? I asked her if she could take the dress in around the waist and she said not much more. I said ok. I left my appointment, got in the car, and burst into tears. I hated how I looked in my wedding dress. After sending pictures of me in the dress to all my bridesmaids and my mom, the verdict was clear- the dress looked good on me and my perceived “fatness” was all in my head.

I started immediately looking for someone that dealt with body image issues.

Committing to Changing My Mindset

It took me a month or so to find the right therapist to help me work through my body image issues (and about a dozen more panicked texts to my bridesmaids.) But I’ve been seeing her for a few weeks now and I already feel my mindset shifting.

The first thing my therapist told me was that she couldn’t fix my body image issues if I wasn’t committed to changing how I thought. It seems simple enough- change how you think and talk about yourself and you’ll begin to feel better. Its the most basic advice and almost anyone will tell you that, but its hard to really commit. In my case, I apparently have to pay someone to tell me to change something that I already know I should change before I’ll actually try to change it. Typical.

But I’ve committed. And yes, I have my negative moments where I criticize myself. However, I feel so much better. I don’t beat myself up for how I look in a certain dress after I’ve eaten a big meal. When I look in the mirror, I make a conscious effort to find one thing that I love about myself. It might be something small like how my engagement ring looks on my finger or how a necklace looks around my neck, but it’s still something positive!

Changing What I Put in My Body

I’ve always believed that the mind and the body are very much connected. Luckily, my therapist agrees. I was explaining to her that I always have stomach problems and never feel good, which contributes to how I feel I look on the outside (i.e. bloated.) She asked if I had any allergies and I explained that dairy wasn’t my best friend but I take pills to help with that. She told me I need to totally cut out the dairy for a trial period to see how I feel. Ugh. I love cheese. This was so hard to hear! But I agreed. Once again, apparently I have to pay someone to make me do the things I already know I should do.

Since I also have anxiety she asked how much coffee I drink in a day. Too much is the answer. She told me to cut that out as well since caffeine can often make anxiety worse. Ugh. I love coffee. But if what I put in my body is causing harm not only to my stomach but also my mind, then I have to make an effort to change that! So I am. I’m only a few days in but it’s helping!

What’s Next

I honestly am not sure what’s next in fixing my body image journey. I think there will be ups and downs. But so far the ups have felt amazing and the downs are only momentary. I’m FINALLY looking forward to putting on that wedding dress. Am I still nervous? Of course! But not so much over how my body will look. I’m nervous that my hair might not stay in place or that my makeup will smudge or that I’ll get stains on my dress. I am not nervous that I will look fat because I know my body will serve me well that day. Plus, my wedding dress is pretty darn big (hint!) so I think I’ll look pretty small in comparison!

Mental Health During Wedding Planning

Oh. My. Goodness. I am 80-some days away from marrying David and I couldn’t be more excited! It’s really starting to feel REAL. We’ve been engaged since May 2018 and up until now, everything has been about paying for the wedding. But now we’re getting into the details! However, with all the details and exciting moments comes a lot of stress. This brings me right back to mental health. The ups and downs you’ll experience throughout the whole planning process means you’ll really need to be in touch with your mental health. Here’s how I’m learning to do that!

Accept How You Feel

Our hearts can be deceitful, but when your heart and your head are saying the same thing, it’s ok to feel a certain way. For example, when I went for my first dress fitting, I stepped into my gown and didn’t feel so hot. It was too big on me and wasn’t tailored to my body. Then the seamstress suggested I wear a bustier under the dress to keep my stomach tight and everything lifted. I put it on and then got my dress all situated and I felt hot and suffocated. But I still went with her recommendation even though I didn’t like how I looked or felt. Both my heart and my head said this wasn’t a good idea but I felt bad for not wanting to do what was suggested.

So now I have to tell my seamstress that I need an alternative! I didn’t want to accept how I felt because I didn’t think I should be feeling or thinking it. But you know what? I’m allowed to feel and think that an alternative is better. And so are you.

Have Someone to Talk to

Talking to someone about how you feel or what you’re experiencing can be so helpful! Throughout the planning (and paying!) process I’ve desperately needed someone to share my thoughts with. My mom, a coworker, my best friends, and my clinical psychologist have been lifesavers! Find someone you trust to share frustrations, excitement, and worries with in relation to your wedding.

Don’t Constantly Plan

David and I have had over a year to plan our wedding so we were able to take some time off from planning now and then. You will drive yourself crazy if you constantly plan! You need to take a break from it every now and then. David and I have found other things to do together that don’t involve wedding stuff and its really awesome to just live normally for a little while. It’s a good mental break!

Write Down Your Worries and Fears

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with worry and fear regarding our wedding that I can’t contain it anymore. So I write down what’s troubling me. Sometimes all it takes is a sentence or two, other times its an entire page or more. Writing it down really helps me think through it and verbalize it as well. I think a lot of people can benefit from this practice!

 

Socializing to Improve Your Mental Health

stoneleigh hotel rose garden party

Oh my goodness everyone, it has been a whirlwind few weeks! David and I have been so busy with different things that the days just got away from me. On top of that, this past weekend we had a freak strong storm blow through Dallas and it knocked out our power for 3 days! There were trees snapped in half all over the place, power lines down, fences completely gone, and even a crane fell on an apartment complex and unfortunately someone was killed. With all that said however, I’m so thankful that David and I and our fur kids are safe and sound. Now on to the good stuff!

Socializing and mental health go hand-in-hand I have found! I wanted to share what I’ve been doing in recent months to improve my mind and a few suggestions I have for you to do the same!

getting over my comfort zone

The last few years have felt isolating to me. I moved to a new city, didn’t know anyone, and always felt like I was going to be moving again so why bother. Earlier this spring I told myself “summer is coming and I want to have a summer that is full of laughs with good friends.” So I decided to start making it happen even though it made me all sorts of anxious. I signed up for blogger brunches, started going to networking events and happy hours, and got tickets to local events like the one in the picture above!

This was a particularly fun event! It was at the Stoneleigh Hotel where they hosted a Rose Garden Party! I met tons of people and had a blast! I took one of my friends with me and ended up seeing a lot of people I knew so I got to further connect with them. I normally wouldn’t do this. It’s out of my comfort zone and my anxiety told me there’s no way I could handle it. But I did and it paid off!

How my mental health improved

I felt like a new me! Being around people and sharing in laughs can make such an impact on how you feel emotionally and mentally. Sometimes its really hard for me to go to events that I’ve already signed up for. I think “it would be easier to stay in bed” or “what if it’s awkward?” 9 times out of 10 I end up being so glad I went and so happy when I get home. People are meant to be with people!

3 ways to get social

Finding my “people” wasn’t easy. But the best way I found friends and community is through my hobby: blogging. Start with what you love to do and then go from there. Runners have community. Dog lovers do. Cat lovers certainly do. Whatever it is you enjoy, find your group there!

Join a meet up group! Meetup.com is where one of my friends found her group of gals to hang out with, which she then introduced me to! BOOM. A whole new friend group! Sure, meeting up with a group of people you don’t know can be unnerving but everyone is in the same position as you are.

Establish your local “spot.” Whether its a Starbucks down the street, a dive bar, a restaurant or a gym, find one place where you dig the vibes and start frequenting it. Over time you’ll start to know faces and get to know the people behind them. It’s a great way to slowly overcome social anxiety and be present in your community.