Life & Lessons, Note to Self

SELF | “Note to Self” Essay Series

My collection of personal-thoughts-turned quotes, Note to Self, is coming out on 06/20/20. This essay series details the journey behind each chapter.

My natural setting is people-pleasing.

Or maybe it’s not, and I’m just like the rest of you, running around trying not to throw things out of whack because it involves a lot of cleanup.

I constantly think about what I should have said seven years later. I bite my tongue, or I am in so much disbelief that I don’t say anything at all. If I do say something, I say it unconvincingly, or it’s not how I wanted it to come out at all.

I hate this about myself. But I don’t hate myself. And that’s when this question came to me:

How much do I respect myself?

Why do I allow people to talk to me or treat me a certain way if I don’t like it? Why do I not trust every red, blaring alarm inside me screaming, “This is not right”? Why do I take their cues over mine? Don’t I matter, too?

I’ve been told my entire life that being full of emotions is a bad thing. It’s weak, it’s messy, it’s annoying.

But I’m learning that it’s not. I see right through everything and the people who say that are scared of being found out. I understand what’s happening around me at a deeper level. I’ve learned that this is my power.

Like anything that has power, it’s not possible to stay on all day, all the time.

Forgive yourself for the times the lights were off. Forgive yourself for needing rest; for glitching or for losing control. For getting it right 10 times then messing it up the 11th. For missing a step while you stomp to the beat of your own drum.

Then recharge and take inventory of your self-love and self-respect. I succeed at my own advice. I fail at my own advice. I am constantly patting myself on the back. I am constantly putting myself in check. Both are necessary and important.

I have to remind myself not to be a people-pleaser. I have to remind myself to ask for what I really want and ask directly. I have to remind myself to say what I mean, but say it kindly. What’s scarier: never getting what you want or deserve (a pay raise, a date, an answer) or getting turned down? What’s worse: having an uncomfortable conversation and just getting it out into the open, or carrying the discomfort of what went unsaid into every part of your day? Your ego is a monster. Kill it now.

Just last week, I was negotiating and asked for what I wanted. Not once, but twice. It was terrifying. I felt like I was stepping into a fake, more confident, more seasoned version of myself. That’s who we become when we practice. We have to stop being afraid of what we want.

Trust yourself. Learn to hear the sound of that little voice inside. Learn to embrace every misstep and mistake you’ve made. Wipe the mirror down and take a good look at your power, your magic. It’s all right there.

Note to Self can be purchased at Sign up for my newsletter here and follow me on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with my life and work!

Life & Lessons, Note to Self

LIFE | “Note to Self” Essay Series

My collection of personal-thoughts-turned quotes, Note to Self, is coming out on 06/20/20. This essay series details the journey behind each chapter.

I don’t know how else to put it: life is one huge unraveling.

We are born into a world that’s already been turning, already has its own values and ideas, already has a system.

We are born blank slates. But we become canvases for our family’s projections, our school’s agendas, and our neighbors’ behaviors.

It wasn’t until my 20s that it dawned on me: So you’re just going to believe what you’ve been told your whole life?

The day you sit down and think about this is the day you begin your great unraveling. Who are you? And what have you been taught to be?

As a kid — and even now — I never did what all the other kids were doing just because everyone else was doing it. Still, I had to accept that I am a product of my environment. And not just the one at home.

Yes, I grew up in a house with loving, supportive parents. But what did I learn in school from other kids? From my teachers? From my textbooks? Yes, I like my job. But what am I picking up from my colleagues? My boss? My work? Yes, I surround myself with inspiring and supportive friends. But what are magazines and television shows and movies and the media telling me? That my hair is not beautiful enough? That I’m too proper? That I’m too bubbly? That I’m a prude? That I’m promiscuous? That I’m too loud? That I’m too angry? That I’m too soft? That I’m too sensitive?

The unraveling never stops. There are still things the world tries to teach me, and I have to decide each and every day whether I believe it or not. Furthermore, if I am any or all of those things, what makes them a bad thing?

During this lifelong unraveling, we meet people who help free us from life’s bindings and others who leave us tied even tighter. Most people don’t mean to make it worse. In fact, they think they’re helping. But the reality is that they’re not quite sure how to untie you because they haven’t yet learned how to untie themselves.

I think we’re all a little scared of freeing ourselves. The possibilities are endless and overwhelming. You might like the same sex. You might want to change how your dream looks. You might not want to be surrounded by the toxic people you’ve surrounded yourself with up until now. We’re all scared of looking stupid or wrong. We’re all being lonely and disliked. Because of this, we’re all scared of changing our minds.

But we’re not the only ones. Someone’s gotta do it first. Chances are, you aren’t the first. And if you are, you won’t be the last. There’s a community out there for you.

During this great unraveling, detours are okay. In this chapter of the book, I write a lot about wrong turns and u-turns and left turns and right turns. After college, I was dead set on moving to Los Angeles. But I got an unexpected call for a job in Washington DC and knew it was an undeniably great opportunity, so I took it. I learned so much. I fell in love with the city; its diversity, its vibrance, its culture. I met my love and grew closer in friendships. And I can’t help but think that if I never got that call, I would have never been introduced to the city where I’d find myself back in — the one where I would begin designing the life I want.

I have “Leap” tattooed on my right rib cage, where it expands with every breath I take. I’ve decided that no matter what, I’ll always be where I’m supposed to be because I’m going to ultimately get to where I’m meant to end up anyways. I’ve decided to follow my heart while getting there. I’ve decided to take leaps, even if I’m scared. I have to constantly remind myself to breathe and have fun. Life is really just a playground.

Each decision you make should be the biggest and best decision of your life — until the next decision comes along. Trust every part of the unraveling. Be humbled. Uncrumple your heart and your soul. Tell your story. By the end, hopefully, we are freed from the tangled yarn that’s been woven for us. Then we can start stitching together the real fabric of our lives.

Note to Self can be purchased at Sign up for my newsletter here and follow me on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with my life and work!

Life & Lessons, Note to Self

LOVE | “Note to Self” Essay Series

My collection of personal-thoughts-turned quotes, Note to Self, is coming out on 06/20/20. This essay series details the journey behind each chapter.

I always say that my parents ruined love for me. Not because they are the worst, but because they are the best. They taught us to never go to bed angry at someone you love. They kissed good morning and good night, they held hands around the house, they danced in the kitchen, they laughed at everything, they always sat next to one another at the dinner table. My brothers and I never saw them fight; they kept their battles private because they knew that love is the war that wins. They respected and were patient with one another. Most importantly, they showed us love by loving us, their kids, so deeply and unconditionally. What they had, and have, is so real. I found myself never wanting to settle for anything less.

Much like the majority of the romantic experiences I’ve had in my life, I debated if I could even title this chapter Love. I didn’t have a serious relationship in high school or in college. I was focused on school, my family, my friends, my future, myself. I didn’t want to waste my time on anything I didn’t think could last. The times I did find something I thought was worth keeping, the feeling was either completely unrequited or I was kept in the crossfires of their oscillating feelings or fear of commitment before being let down. I wish I could say “I’m kidding” when I say to you, I really thought something was wrong with me because of it.

And then someone walked into my life and proved me wrong.

Here’s what everything before him taught me: heartbreak molds you and love isn’t something you can own. You just can’t make someone feel something, even if it seems like all the signs are there. Even if they do, and you’re lucky enough to experience that, you can’t make them stay (or be less shitty). I mean — ha — you can. But people own themselves. You can’t control another person, therefore, you can’t control love. We are all just renters. We can only enjoy our stay.

Here’s what he’s taught me: everything is worth it when you find someone who feels like home and wants to build a home with you, too. We did our first year living in the same city, the second and third across the country, and the fourth, together once again. It was easy because we knew we wanted to stay together. It was hard because experiencing life — the good and the bad — without someone you love day to day is excruciating. But we knew we had something special. Love is not only a beautiful, beautiful feeling — but is also a choice. It is lovely to find someone who says Hey, I want to stick around. Let’s dance in the kitchen. Let’s be each other’s shelter. Let’s be each other’s adventure. Let’s kiss good morning and good night. When we do fight, let’s do it with our weapons down and hearts in our hands. Let’s rent this thing together.

Note to Self can be purchased at Sign up for my newsletter here and follow me on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with my life and work!

Note to Self: People
Life & Lessons, Note to Self

PEOPLE | “Note to Self” Essay Series

My collection of personal-thoughts-turned quotes, Note to Self, is coming out on 06/20/20. This essay series details the journey behind each chapter.

People are made up of a million little stories, so it makes sense that I’ve gathered a million little stories about people.

My lessons surrounding people, particularly those whom I’ve had the pleasure and displeasure of meeting, can be summed up into one sentence: we are simultaneously amazing and shitty.

Notice I say “we.” I am one of you.

I’ve spent all 25 years of my life taking note of how others move through this world and being as conscious as possible about how I do, too. I’ve found it true that different places hold different types of people. Your surroundings influence you to be your best or your worst.

I’m not an anthropologist (I should be in my next life), but here are a few types of people I’ve studied and placed in my field notes.

There are the people who won’t like you no matter what you do. It’s okay, boo. You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. My therapist revealed something groundbreaking to me earlier this month: there’s no need to defend ourselves. People are allowed to have their opinion of you. That doesn’t make them right.

Next up: there are the people who do like you… a little too much. They like you so much that they a) want to be just like you, and/or b) want you to be as miserable as they are. I’ll get back to you on how to deal with this one… I’m still figuring it out.

Then, there are the people who like to give… a little too much. And by give, I mean advice. Watch out for the people who like to explain more than they like to explore.

Of course, life wouldn’t be complete without the people who love to take. I say it poignantly in my book: Everyone wants something from you, but you can’t give them everything. You’d be empty.

I would be remiss not to admit that I, too, have the ability to suck. As a sensitive human, I have walked my life on eggshells trying not to hurt other people because it’s been done way too often to me. But if I do hurt someone, I try my best to apologize. Truly apologize. Not that I’m sorry you felt that way bullshit. But I’m so sorry I did that. I’m so sorry I said that. I was wrong. Why is it so hard for us to do this? I think it’s important. I’m learning. You should, too.

It all boils down to this: hold onto the people who don’t make you feel like shit. I mean, those are some low standards. That’s the bare minimum. But start there.

Have you taken inventory of the people in your life, lately? Who makes you excited? Who brings out the good in you? Who is thoughtful? Who makes you want to dance and sing and smile? Them. Focus on them.

When you feel like there’s only so much of you to give, give it to the people who view friendships and relationships as a two-way street. For the ones who don’t… thank them and move on. For the ones who do… thank them. Then stay.

There’s one type of person I haven’t mentioned yet, and I’ve saved it for last intentionally. These are the people who are walking through the dark. It is raining for them. It is cold and wet. It is hard. Be sunshine. Be warmth. Be shelter. You don’t have to know someone deeply or be sure you’ll see them ever again to make an impact on their lives.

We have the ability to be bad. We also have the ability to be so, so good. So what’s it going to be for you?

Note to Self can be purchased at Sign up for my newsletter here and follow me on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with my life and work!


Define Yourself.


















Neat freak.




Hard worker.



A voice.

One piece of you is not the whole. You are all these things, together. You are a combination of experiences, feelings, people, dreams, characteristics, traits, flaws, stories. You are layered. You are a work in progress. You are parts to your own whole.

You aren’t what they say. Realize today that you are what you say.

And there is power in that.

Define yourself.

This is me.

Who are you?

Inspired by Nikole Gregg

nlgregg | lifethroughexpression