The 5 Most Important Things I Learned by 25

In case any of you didn’t know, I turned 25 just this morning (8:30 a.m. to be exact) and wow, what a whirlwind it has been so far.

I have been dreading this birthday for a while now to be quite honest. I had this notion that it was going to symbolize the end of something; my youth, my innocence, my hopes and dreams. Or that it was going to trigger an existential crisis (LOL).

But it has turned out to feel like quite the opposite

I’ve been doing some reflecting on the most important things I have learned and felt like maybe this was a good time to share them. So here we go, the 5 most important things I learned by 25.

1. It’s ok to fail

And you will, numerous times. But trust me, they will all be lessons.

I spent so long looking back on my mistakes and failures and feeling like they were going to define who I was. I thought that they made me a failure, made me less lovable, less successful. When in reality, all they did was teach me things. They taught me what it feels like to fail and how to pick myself back up when that happens. They made me stronger. And they will make you stronger.

So get out there and fail, my darling, because one day you will look back and be grateful that you did.

2. Never stop dreaming

I thought big dreams were only for little kids or highschoolers going off to seek out their place in the world. But you know what? Everyone can have dreams. And its never too late to have new ones.

Maybe that dream you had when you were 18 didn’t work out so well *points to self*. And that’s totally ok. Dream up a new dream and find a way to chase it.

Life is more fun when you have something to look forward to.

3. Take care of your body and mind

We only get one body in this life, so take good care of it. Feed it well, exercise it, take it to the doctor when it gets sick.

And most importantly, TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH.

Thankfully, this has become so much less stigmatized and it’s ok to talk about our mental health. Just remember that your brain is part of that body of yours and it needs to be nourished all the same.

And always remember that if you are struggling with any kind of mental health illness, please reach out and ask for help, it is always waiting for you. If we are close friends or family, don’t hesitate to talk to me personally. I am always here to talk if you need it.

4. Say what you feel when you feel it

*Deep breath*

This has probably been one of the toughest lessons for me to learn, and I am still not perfect at it. I work on it everyday and I will keep working on it for the rest of my life.

It is so important to say what we feel. And not only to say it, but to say it when we feel it. Life is way too short in some instances and I will be the first to admit that I don’t want to live with any regrets. Its going to be hard sometimes, or maybe uncomfortable, or awkward. But find the words as best you can. And just say them.

We are not always going to be lucky enough to get a second chance to say what we feel. And remember, as we are getting older so are our parents and our siblings and our cousins. Tell them you love them as often as you can. ❤

5. “Stay close to people that feel like sunshine”

I found this quote a while back and it makes me think of certain people in my life.

If you have people in your life that feel like sunshine, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

To me, these people are mostly my family and a few other special individuals that just make me feel whole. And they make me feel like the best version of myself when I am with them. Most importantly, they feel like the sun; warm and loving and bright.

Keep these people close to you. They will keep away the evil in the world, or they will fight it alongside you.


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I have no doubt that I have so much more to learn from the world,

So here’s to the 25 wonderful years I’ve had so far, and to many many more.

Thank you to anyone and everyone that has played even a small role in my life up until this point. You are amazing and I love you all.

Xoxo, Haley

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Why I left NYC

No one ever told us that some of the hardest decisions we make are going to be the ones that are good for us in the long run.

Life is funny like that though.

Something you’ve dreamed of since you were 16 could finally become true only for you to realize it’s not at all how you dreamed it’d be.

Funny how a job you thought was a waste of time and energy could turn out to be one you miss not because of how it made you feel, but because of how you made others feel.

This post is harder to write than I ever thought it would be…

I know it’s been awhile, but I have good reasons.

As you read this I am officially no longer living in Brooklyn. Actually, I haven’t been living there for about 5 months now, just my stuff has been.

I’ve just moved to a town north of Albany, NY which is where I also work now.

I came to the harsh realization that the big city life just isn’t for me or who I’ve become in recent years.

I have loved New York since the minute we met, 6 years ago in late May 2012.

And since then I have visited more times than I can count on my hands, lived there for a semester while attending school in 2014, and lived in Brooklyn for 6 months.

I will always love this city; it’s energy and the way it seems to constantly pull me back in.

But for the time being, we have had to part ways once again.

The main reason I left New York is because I changed jobs. It was just time to move onto something else, and the something else that came along happened to be back upstate.

And trust me, it wasn’t for a lack of trying to find a job in the city that I would love. Everything happens (or doesn’t happen) for a reason. And a job just didn’t happen for me there.

I guess the other underlying reason that I left the city is because I just wasn’t happy there.  And if there’s one piece of advice I give to you here, it will be this:

If you are not happy with your job and you are not happy with where you live, then something’s gotta give. One of the two has to change.

(Shoutout to my lovely Aunt for giving me this advice when I needed it most.)

In my case, both things weren’t going well. And because of the nature of the situation, changing my job also forced a change in where I lived.

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Until next time…

I hope that clears up why I’ve been absent for so long, and I hope you all will still continue to follow me on this wild journey. I have no idea what the future holds, but I’m excited for right now.

Thanks for reading.

Follow me for more posts, I promise it won’t take 5 months for the next one.

What I wish people knew about Anxiety

I’ve recently been more open about my mental illness and how I deal with depression and anxiety.

If you follow this blog or my social media you will know that I actually wrote a post talking about that which you could read here:

The Blue Chair

I wanted to write this post because I think people are quick to judge when someone says they have anxiety. Oftentimes anxiety is mocked and criticized for not having substance as a real illness when for the people suffering it is very real. Hopefully this post can help eliminate some of the untruths.

Also, I just want my friends and family who are supporting my mental health journey to have a better understanding of what it is I’m going through sometimes. So here are a few things I wish people knew about my anxiety.


  1. There are different levels of anxiety

I think first and foremost it’s worth mentioning that everyone suffers from a different level of anxiety. Every human gets anxious once in awhile, it’s a normal emotion. But we also need to be considerate of the fact that there is a spectrum, a scale. Just because someone else might have it worse than me doesn’t mean that my anxiety isn’t real or worth seeking help for.

Personally, I think I’m on the lower end of this ‘spectrum’. I don’t need medication to control my anxiety at the moment and I am grateful for that. It doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t still have to overcome it some other way on a daily basis.

  1. When we say we’re anxious, it’s not only an emotional thing

If someone tells you they are feeling anxious the worst thing you can say is something like, “oh stop worrying, it’s going to be fine” or “don’t overthink it, it’s not that big a deal”.

We know you’re trying to help but please understand that anxiety also causes a physical response that can’t be turned on and off by a switch.

When I’m super anxious I find that I sweat a lot more than usual and my hands will get shaky. My breathing is also labored and sometimes it feels like I’m sucking air through a straw (yeah, not so effective).

On days where it’s more controlled I’ll just pick at my nails or wiggle my feet a lot. Just know though that it lives with me everyday in some capacity, emotionally and physically.

  1. We’re not antisocial, we just have anxiety

I have a memory of my mom, sister and I being at a store together, things had gone slightly awry (we had to wait super long, or something was said by the person working there) and I started literally freaking out in front of everyone. Afterwards, my sister and mom laughed at how ridiculous I was being and it made me so angry and upset.

I felt kind of silly for it too, but I also wondered for a long time why I had gotten so upset about something so insignificant.

It’s not that we don’t like being around people but being in certain social situations makes our anxiety worse. If we don’t feel comfortable with the people we are around, our minds start swirling with crazy thoughts that make the time less enjoyable.

I personally avoid doing things alone because I have an extreme fear of being judged by other people. It sounds irrational but I always feel like everyone is watching me and I hate to think about what other people think about me being all by myself.

Please understand that if we turn down a social outing, it’s probably nothing to do with you and more to do with how anxious we feel that day.

  1. We often feel anxious for no particular reason

Some days we wake up feeling extremely anxious. There really isn’t anything particularly thing worrying us. We also have no idea why a certain situation might make us feel anxious, so please don’t feel bad if we don’t have an answer.

  1. We know that our anxieties are irrational

We worry about things that don’t matter, or we immediately go to the worst-case scenario in any situation. We know that we get anxious for things that aren’t happening for days or weeks and that it makes no sense.

I find myself lying awake most nights worrying about stuff that holds no substance (for example: the other night I was worrying about what kind of insurance plan I need to get… when I turn 26. IM 24 YEARS OLD GUYS). I lay there, my feet writhing under the sheets and my mind racing, wishing sleep would come. Anxiety, like any other mental illness can greatly affect sleeping patterns as well.

So I am sorry if I am ever rude or grumpy because I haven’t gotten enough sleep. And I’m sorry if I ramble about my worries and they make no sense to you. It’s just my anxiety talking and I appreciate if you always listen anyway.


I hope this post helped if you know someone who suffers from anxiety and are trying to better understand how to support them. If you’re like me and have some people in your life that you wish knew these things about your mental illness, feel free to share this post with them. Get a conversation started.

Here are some resources if you need more information:

ADAA.org

betterhelp.com

nami.org

Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more posts like this or some tips and tricks on how I manage my anxiety.

Thanks for reading!

Pros and Cons of City Living

Living in a big city like New York can be fun and exciting. But I think sometimes we get caught up in the fantasy of it all that we forget city life has its shortcomings too.

Here are some major pros and cons of living in New York (or any big city) to think about if you are considering relocating.


Pros:

  1. Everything is quite literally right at your fingertips

Any kind of food you could want is most likely no more than a block away. There’s a coffee shop every 300 feet, no joke (which is helpful if you’re a New Yorker and run on caffeine).

Photo Credit: Haley Shatrau
Latte from Citizens of Chelsea, Manhattan, NY

You basically live in a gigantic mall too. Every store imaginable is somewhere in the city and there’s probably one uptown and one downtown for convenience. Shop till you drop is not just a saying here, it’s a lifestyle.

There are bars and clubs everywhere that you never have to worry about driving to or having a DD from. You just hop the train home or grab an uber.

And let’s not even get started on the amount of things to do in the city. There’s always a museum or art exhibit to visit, a show, a concert, a new restaurant. The options are unlimited.

  1. The Energy

One of the things that first drew me to New York was the energy here. It makes you feel something you can’t get anywhere else. It’s a sense of invincibility. Like you could do anything you wanted no matter how crazy it seemed. You can follow your dreams, be who you always wanted to be, and the city would help you manifest that.

It’s an inspiring place to say the least. There is always a talented person on a street corner playing music, performing a dance, or selling their art. Being around other people that are pursuing their dreams always gives me a sense of belonging. I never feel alone in following my dreams either; we’re all in it together.

  1. Always a stunning view

New York is beautiful; there is no doubt about that. Most big cities are. There are so many pretty sights that you never get bored of for some reason.

Of course the NYC skyline is famous for it’s stunning view, but here are some of my favorite little spots that are just as gorgeous in my opinion.

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Grand Army Plaza near Prospect Park in Brooklyn

Photo credit: Haley Shatrau
View from piers on the Westside Highway

And I can’t forget to mention not only the beauty of the city, but also the entertainment of the other sights. It wouldn’t be New York without the crazy man offering hugs in Union Square dressed in all tie-dye. There’s always something interesting to look at. Big cities are the best for people watching in general.

Cons:

  1. The Job situation

The one good thing about New York is that there are always jobs out there.

Just not always the jobs you want. Actually, rarely the job you want.

Tons of retailers and restaurants are hiring constantly, but be prepared to only make minimum wage. Sure, New York is a city full of opportunity. But you have to be willing to fight for those opportunities.

There is competition in almost every industry because the city is so densely populated with educated, talented individuals. And finding the ways you stand out from the rest isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do.

  1. Loneliness is real

I know, I know. 8.6 million people, how could you possibly feel lonely?

Well, it’s the truth. In a city full of people, I oftentimes find myself feeling extremely alone.

Everyone here is super busy. We honestly just don’t have much spare time to hang out with people. And if we do, it’s not much. Or we’re sacrificing doing other things like grocery shopping, laundry, and sleeping.

Take the subway once or walk down a crowded street and count how many people have headphones in their ears. The culture in New York that makes us feel alone is one we have created ourselves. We shove our headphones in and tune out the world. Therefore, tuning out human-to-human interactions.

In the end, I guess it’s our own fault that we’re all lonely af.

  1. The Daily Grind

The major con for me at least, is that New York life is a grind on a day-to-day basis.

Everyone lives on a very tight schedule because if we didn’t we wouldn’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done.

We spend so much time waiting, in lines, for trains, for our laundry to be done.

To give you an idea, here is a little breakdown of how long things take me personally:

Train to and from work: 37 minutes each way (without delays)
Laundry: Minimum of 45 minutes, Max of 1 hour 15 minutes
Time I waited in line at Whole Foods on a Thursday night: 25 minutes
Picking up a mobile order at Starbucks: 15 minutes

Don’t even get me going on the Starbucks thing, I love them and their chai tea lattes but, c’mon.

You see my point though. If your time is precious, maybe consider your other options as opposed to a big city.


City life can be extremely fulfilling for some and frustrating for others. Hopefully this little Pro/Con list helps someone out there trying to deicide whether to move to the city or not. I love making lists so share some of your Pro’s and Con’s about city living in the comments below, I’d be interested to see what you guys think.

Thanks for reading!

The Blue Chair

My palms are sweating, but who am I kidding, they always sweat like this. My heart is racing and I feel it beating hard in my chest. I pace the hall, checking my phone to make sure I am on the right floor, in front of the right room. I have no idea who will be on the other side of this door but I reach for the doorknob anyway and push it open knowing there’s no turning back now.

And then I am there, situated awkwardly in a low blue fabric-covered chair. It’s the kind of chair I was expecting, I guess. Typical. Normal. I am sitting on the edge of it, my back miles from the actual back of the chair. My feet are firmly planted on the floor, hoping that will keep me from floating outside of my body.

Then I do what you are supposed to do here, I just start talking…


I’ve finally been honest with myself, so I think it’s time I’m honest with the rest of the world.

I struggle with depression and anxiety.

Sitting across from a therapist was quite possibly the last place I thought I would find myself. But there I was, after months of fighting myself over it. I almost cancelled the appointment more than once and let’s not even get started with how many times I dialed the office number and hung up before someone answered.

I spent so long not seeking help because I didn’t know how to talk about it. And part of me was so afraid of what people would think, so ashamed of what I felt.

I reached a point where trying to handle it on my own was starting to get overwhelming.

So I decided to ask for help.


That blue chair eventually became more and more familiar. I didn’t sit so awkwardly in it after a while. It started to feel comfortable even.

Unfortunately my therapist moved her office and the blue chair turned into this really modern looking red chair. But it was just as comfortable because it wasn’t actually about the chair at all. It was that I finally had someone to listen to me and validate the things that I was feeling.


We live in an unfortunate world where there is a stigma about mental illness and it is greatly underrepresented in the health industry.

I’ve come to realize recently that my voice does matter in all this. I may be just one person, but I am one of many who are fighting everyday to live a happier and fuller life.

I started this blog not really knowing where it would go or what kind of content I would post. I think if I am to do it any justice, I need to use this platform to talk about things that matter, things that people are afraid to talk about. So I hope you will continue to read all my posts, not just the funny, helpful or quirky ones but also the ones that involve mental health.

I am not going to pretend for one minute that it was a simple choice to ask for help. It was hard, almost impossible. And every single day is hard. I will never regret asking for help, though.

One of the things my therapist said to me on that very first day was, “You are brave. Don’t ever forget that.”

I no longer feel ashamed talking about my mental health and neither should anyone out there who is struggling. Despite how hard it may be to get the words out the first time, I hope you find a way to say them.

And when you do, just know:

You are brave. Don’t ever forget that.

Thanks for reading.

Here are some helpful resources if you or someone you love is dealing with depression or anxiety. And please remember that you are not alone. There is always someone who will listen, including me.

My Contact Page

Depression Resources

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call or text 1-800-273-8255  Or visit

Anxiety Resources

Link to BetterHelp- an online counseling service

The City That Never Sleeps?

There’s something oddly comforting about being alone in the darkness. It’s more like a feeling of serenity, when the rest of the world is still asleep.

8.5 million people and I am alone on the street in the early hours of a Sunday morning. For a city that never sleeps, New York is eerily quiet on this morning.

There are no sirens wailing in my ears.

There are no honking cars.

And the car wash down the street isn’t open yet. No men rushing around washing tires. No water running off the sidewalk and onto the street.

The bagel place on my way to the train station still reads “closed” and the lights are off, the building dark.

I can hear everything better this way, though. The crisp morning air whooshing around, the streetlights clicking to a new color, and the trains rumbling on the tracks above me, all sounds so much louder.

There’s also something nice about having the streets all to myself. I don’t have to move over for someone passing, or watch out for dogs or children running down the sidewalk. And I don’t really have to pay attention to the “walk” symbol because there are no cars on the streets either.

I can feel things better too. I feel my lungs filling with air, pumping my body as I walk purposefully. I feel my feet hitting the crumbling sidewalk with every step forward.

And I feel my own heart beating, reminding me I am alive.

The In-Between

When I moved to New York I didn’t have a job waiting for me. I had a plan, and I had an opportunity that would make me some cash until that plan could be brought to fruition.

But basically I moved here jobless.

For about a week I sat in my apartment alone, bored and completely regretting my choice. Eventually, I got a part time job that made the days pass. Yet it wasn’t something I wanted to last long. Just a couple weeks until I could work out the kinks of my plan.

But a couple weeks turned into a month, two months, and now it’s five months later and still it drags on. I feel stuck in this “in-between” job. A job that was never supposed to be Plan A.

So in order to keep myself going, to see the light at the end of this dreary tunnel, I’ve compiled a list of things to remember in this type of situation.

If you’re stuck in a kind of “in-between” job situation, hopefully this is hopeful to you as well.

  1. Don’t stop looking for new opportunities

I get it, it get’s disheartening applying to countless amounts of jobs and hearing nothing back or worse, getting a rejection. Those emails are going to keep coming. The ones that say “we regret to inform you…” But that’s ok. Keep sending in those applications because it’s a lot like the lottery; you can’t win if you don’t platy. You increase your odds of getting an interview if you apply to more positions. So set aside a time maybe once or twice a week to just pound out a few dozen apps and you’ll see results. The law of probability guarantees it.

  1. Keep in contact with all contacts

It’s so important to keep in touch with the hiring managers or point of contacts for the positions you are super interested in. They like to see people taking initiative and that might set you apart from every other resume sitting on their desk. So follow up with emails, or phone calls, whichever suits the situation. And don’t forget about the people you know who knows someone, or might know someone. Keep in touch with them as well as they could be the difference between you and another candidate if references play a huge role.

  1. Learn to manage your anxiety about it

If you’re anything like me, I let myself get worked up and anxious over everything. Especially when it comes to jobs. I have learned though, that there is only so much I can control. As long as I am doing everything I can, I have to let what happens happen. So fill out your applications, make your phone calls and send follow up emails and then wash your hands of it. If it is meant to be, it will be. Don’t let your daily life be stressful and anxiety ridden over things you cannot change.

  1. Don’t lose hope

Super cliché, I know. But I have to remind myself everyday to keep being grateful for the things I have and be hopeful for what is to come. If you find yourself at a low point, lean on your friends and family for support. My mom has been an amazing force in all this for me. She reminds me daily that I can do the things I set my mind to and inspires me to keep going. Find the people in your life that do that for you, and reach out to them in hard times. It will make all the difference trust me.

And if you don’t have someone like that, I’m always here if you need to talk! The Internet is a great place to meet people going through similar things.

 

I think there comes a point where we all find ourselves in some sort of “in-between”. It may be in a job, in a relationship, in a certain living situation, or maybe just in life. We feel sort of lost, but that’s ok. Because the important part is that it is only temporary. And we have to begin to let the word temporary take on a different meaning. It doesn’t have a specific time frame, so why do we always put so much emphasis on it being short lived?

All good things come to those who wait, right?

So let’s at least enjoy the wait and stay excited for all that is to come.

Thanks for reading!

Oh Hey…

Oh hey,

Welcome to my blog.

I guess introductions are in order then, huh.

Well my name is Haley, and I’m the writer of this blog. Or what will be a blog at some point. Right now it’s a little rough around the edges, but stick with me. I’ve wanted to start a blog for a long time now for a few reasons.

Reason 1: I enjoy writing purely for fun. I always have. I was that weird kid in school that liked writing essays because it was an excuse to put pen to paper (yes, I’m a little old. We wrote our essays with pen and paper). Once I got into college, I took a few creative writing classes and explored more of my love for writing. And ever since, I’ve been searching for a reason to keep doing it.

When you say “I wanna start a blog”, you kind of have to have an idea of what you actually want to write about. You can’t start a blog without a theme or a topic in mind. And after lots of thinking and brainstorming, I found something that I would be passionate about writing, which brings us to another reason I wanted to start a blog.

Reason 2: There have been many things I have experienced in life that I have looked back on and thought, “wow, I really wish I had been able to read about other peoples exact experience with (insert life event here)”. So that’s exactly what I want to write about. I want to be able to offer others the kind of advice I wish was available to me when I was going through a rough time. And not just the fluffy, positive advice either. I want to be able to give the whole picture, the good and the bad. Being able to recount my experiences, in all their traumatic glory, might help someone out there who is struggling through something I have already gotten past.

So welcome to my blog. I hope you stick around and I hope the type of advice and stories I post will be of some help to you or someone else in your life.

That’s all for now.