What I’d Tell My College Self: All About Life, Love and Career Success

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Am I the only one who wishes they could go back in time and know everything they know now? I think about it all the time. If I knew in college the things I know now… I’d own the world. It’s a little bit mind-blowing how different I think things would be.

My family and I headed back to Tallahassee this weekend for my sister’s graduation from FSU. Being back at my alma mater definitely filled me with more than a little bit of nostalgia! While strolling campus, I found myself reflecting a little on the last 12 years since my own graduation and thinking about some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned. I thought it might be fun to share it with all of you!

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Follow up, follow up, follow up.

Ah, the art of the follow-up. I wish I had realized when I was starting out in my career how important it was. At the end of the day, you are not the center of everyone else’s universe. People are busy. They have busy jobs. Your email is not their top priority. People’s inboxes are overflowing… trust me, they are not going to be annoyed by your follow up email… they’ll be glad you reminded them.

Persistence pays off. It took me 6 years to land my dream job at Teen Vogue. 6 years of follow-ups. For 6 years, I emailed the senior market editor at Teen Vogue every 3 months to check in on potential job openings. After 24 emails, I got the job. DON’T BE AFRAID TO FOLLOW UP.

Hard work does not go unnoticed. Laziness doesn’t either.

There will be times in your career you feel unappreciated and unnoticed. Don’t be discouraged, bosses know who works and who doesn’t, trust.

Always make sure that you’re going above and beyond and are always willing to go the extra mile. The phrase “that isn’t my job” shouldn’t even be in your vocabulary.

No one can take what is meant to be yours.

This was a tough lesson for me to learn and truth be told, it’s something I struggle with even today. NO ONE can take what is meant to be yours. A guy, a job, an opportunity. What is meant to be yours will be yours.

If something doesn’t work out for whatever reason… it’s because it wasn’t meant for you. Handle those situations with grace and be grateful they didn’t work out– if you’re caught up in something that isn’t meant for you, you won’t be open when the right thing comes around.

I see this a lot with love and with job opportunities. I can remember back when I was job searching in New York… I would hear about a really great job opening and would instantly feel insanely stressed that I was going to miss out on it. Job openings in publishing are insane– they open and are filled within a week and you have to be in the right place at the right time. I would feel this major adrenaline spike and would basically be in knots until I found out of if the job was filled or not. Truth be told, none of those jobs were meant for me.

If someone likes you, they’ll make it happen.

At the end of the day, if someone likes you, they’ll make it happen. No excuses. If a guy is truly into you, he will move heaven and earth to see you and to be with you. Distance, busy schedule, none of it will matter for the guy who truly is crazy about you… and that’s what you deserve. For someone to be truly crazy about you and to do whatever it takes to be a part of your life.

You can take this one a step further… EVERY guy believes in marriage and commitment for the right girl. The saddest thing I’ve seen over the years are these poor girls who settle for less than they deserve and stay with a guy who “doesn’t believe in marriage”. They waste their pretty years on these losers and eventually, when they’ve had enough, break it off, only for the guy to meet someone else 5 minutes later and get engaged within 6 months. I’ve seen it A LOT. If a guy tells you he’s just not that into a relationship or marriage– run. He is, just not with you.

The plans you have for yourself aren’t always big enough.

We can’t see the big picture and we don’t know the future. We may have big plans for our lives, but God’s plans are always bigger and better than any we could dream up ourselves.

I had big career aspirations. Fashion Editor at a major women’s magazine. My career started at Glamour Magazine, switched to PR for a hot second, back to the editorial world with a jaunt at Women’s Health, and then finally… my dream job in the fashion closet of Teen Vogue. The job a million girls would kill for.

Like I mentioned before, I chased that Teen Vogue dream job for 6 whole years. And then… disaster. After my dad’s death, I had to re-evaluate my whole life. Where I was going, what I was doing, my career plans. I ended up leaving my life in New York and going back to Miami. My dream of being an editor at a women’s magazine died. Or so I thought… little did I realize God had orchestrated a plan for me that was bigger than anything I could’ve planned for myself.

With the launch of my blog, I was able to launch my OWN platform where I could share my fashion expertise, advice, thoughts, favorites and more… with all of you. I could be my own boss and basically direct my own career path. Held accountable to no one by myself… and all of you, naturally. I could never have dreamed this for myself. It was beyond the scope of what I thought possible.

Don’t limit yourself by locking yourself into your own plan.

Things will never happen how you expect they will.

Expectations are a killer. Nothing ever plays out how you think it will. When things don’t go as we expect, we oftentimes feel disappointed or let down. The big secret is this: NOTHING will ever go as you expect. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by locking yourself into your own expectations. Be flexible and learn to roll with the punches.

Always focus on the positive. There is good in every bad situation. 

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years is that there is always good that comes out of every bad situation. It can be insanely hard to see what it is at times, but we are always learning through the hardships in our lives.

When I look back at all the biggest challenges and heartbreaks of my life, I can see beautiful, wonderful things that have come from them. Lessons learned, relationships built, opportunities created.

My dad’s death is the biggest example. It was a horrible, horrible thing. Probably the hardest thing that’s happened in my life. Yet, from it, I learned so much, grew so much, and my entire life ended up shifting in wonderful ways I couldn’t have anticipated.

Don’t let life’s hardships make you hard. Make sure that you use the losses and heartbreaks to make you stronger, better, and more resilient.

Learn from your mistakes or you’ll be doomed to repeat them. 

We all make mistakes. Make sure that you’re learning from yours. Use the lessons that you learn to move forward instead of backwards. I often find that struggles and challenges have a way of popping back up in our lives until we find a way to conquer them. Learn what you can from every one and then move on. Don’t repeat the mistakes of your past… truth be told, there are tons of NEW mistakes to be made.

Surround yourself with people who challenge you and make you better.

The people we surround ourselves with have a way of rubbing off on us. Make sure that you surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you and push you to be the best version of yourself.

I’ve been so blessed with so many amazing women in my life. Women who lift me up and cheer me on every step of the way. These women push me to be my best self and I am so grateful for them.

Don’t allow negative Nancys in your life. When you focus solely on the negative, you shut yourself off to the POSITIVES. Plus, this does not honor God. Focusing on the negative is a form of ingratitude. Live your life from a place of gratitude, focusing always on the blessings and positives in our lives.

Don’t ever ever ever ever settle.

You deserve the world. You deserve it all. A job you love, a man who is CRAZY for you, joy in your life, great friends, fun, travel, excitement. Don’t settle for anything less than magic. Value yourself and what you have to offer and don’t demean your worth by accepting less than that. Have faith that God is taking care of you and that He has set aside all of these things for you.

Looking back on the last 12 years since college, it’s amazing to me the way things have turned out. My life today looks nothing like I thought it would, but oddly enough it’s better than I could’ve imagined. Sure there are things that aren’t ideal, but at the end of the day, I am incredibly happy and at peace with how things have turned out. There is still so much life ahead and so many adventures to be had.

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Your turn– what would you tell YOUR college self? Drop it in the comments!

Your stylish BFF. Obsessed with coffee, a red lip, and anything that sparkles. Love dressing up. Always on the hunt for the perfect bag, shoe or LBD to share with you, my BFF. Follow along as I do life... one stiletto at a time.

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