5 pieces of advice for teens

Has anyone else hopped on the Gretchen Rubin train? I happened upon her book The Happiness Project a few months ago, and now I’m playing catchup with her podcast, Happier, which she records with her sister Elizabeth. I also just checked out her newest book, Better than Before, about how to effectively make and break habits. If you’re interested in habits, happiness, and psychology, she’s definitely worth checking out.

In one podcast episode, Gretchen and Elizabeth’s special guest was Gretchen’s 16-year-old daughter, Eliza. Listeners were invited to send Eliza some pieces of advice as she nervously entered her junior year of high school. As I thought about what I would say to a rising junior, I realized that almost everything that I felt needed to be said was related to successfully choosing a career in the future. So, here is my long-winded post (and some kittens) for all the Elizas.

  1. Get a job. Getting a job with a manageable schedule can be tricky for high schoolers. However, students are usually expected to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives when they’re 18 or younger; I personally knew a father who was distraught that his 15-year-old son didn’t have a career path already planned out. Holding jobs as a teenager, even waiting tables, will tell you so much about yourself. If you wait to start working till you get to college, your scholarship money and/or loans will already be on the clock. Time is money.

    I remember sitting in career counseling at the end of my freshman year of college, taking survey after survey to determine what the perfect job for me would be. I had such high hopes for what my time with the counselor would reveal, but I came away frustrated at the number of questions I didn’t know how to answer. I didn’t know what kind of work environment I preferred, or how much I wanted to interact with the public, or if I would prefer mostly sitting or lots of moving. All I knew was school, and that wasn’t much to draw from. When all you do is sit in a desk for 12 years, how can you know what you’ll want to do in a different environment? A year or two later, after having two jobs completely unrelated to any career I was interested in, I could have pinpointed more: no desk job; some public interactions, but preferably one-on-one; etc. Without having worked during high school, though, I knew very little about how I would thrive as a worker.

  2. Job shadow… again, and again. When they’re interested in a career, most people spend a handful of hours observing someone who has an established career in that field. To get into my grad program, I was required to have a minimum of 40 hours observing OTs. Looking back, I think that was too little time. A student could easily spend a regular work week with one person at one location and technically knock out all their required hours without learning everything they really need to know.

    It’s important to know all the different settings you might work in within any given field and spend several hours in each, knowing that once you graduate, you’ll probably need to take any job you can get — whether it’s what you really wanted/feel familiar with or not. It’s also a good idea to continue to job shadow, even when the person you’re following says it isn’t worth your time. Do they have a “boring” day lined up, without any particularly interesting diagnoses? Go see if you still like it. Not every day will be unique and exciting. Are they done with the hands-on work and only have documentation left? Stay. That’ll be part of your job one day. You should also ask about how often people in this field need to come in early, continue working at home in the evenings, etc. You need to have an accurate picture of a career to know if it matches up with the life you want.

  3. Choose a career first and major second. My husband and I both found career advice in college to be lacking. Most of what we heard was that you should choose a major you’re interested in, and then find something to do with it. Unfortunately, with that approach, universities collect your money while you get a French degree for the love of the language, but with no real purpose. If you want to major in religion or philosophy or French, be my guest. I totally get why those would be fascinating majors. But if you don’t have a very specific plan for how you could use that degree, don’t do it! Which leads me to…
  4. Not every passion will turn into a career. There are lots of things in life I enjoy. I could spend hours looking at greeting cards. I love reading quirky/shmancy-sounding paint and nail polish color names. I could totally get into being an interior designer.

    These are legitimate careers for some people (designing greeting cards, anyway — not staring at them), so I’m not saying they’re completely frivolous and unrealistic. But as much as you might enjoy something, it may not be your career. And that has to start being okay. If you love history but don’t want to be a professor, build a life where you have time to read biographies and history books. If you love painting, build a life where you make time to paint. There are a lucky few people in the world who have one all-consuming passion, and they have found or created a job to fit exactly that. That’s amazing. But we have to recognize that that won’t be everyone, because we still need people who have the necessary skills to be plumbers and retail managers and phlebotomists — work that looks a little less glorious, but is truly indispensable.

  5. Your career will be work. If I had a kitten for every time I heard, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” I’d be a very happy lady.

    IMG_2543

    (I will forever die over my cat and his litter mates. And this isn’t even all of them!) 

    And yet, kittens don’t make up for the fact that this is complete nonsense. You might love your job — I hope you do! I hope the good outweighs the bad and that you can see yourself keeping it up till you’re gray (and beyond… I’m 26 and going gray). But if you talk to people who truly love their jobs, even the ones who spout this cliche, they can tell you that their job isn’t always sunshine and unicorns — even if they adore it, even if they created it themselves, completely custom just for their special interests. The reality is, even the best jobs have rough patches. It could be a rude client whose comments stay with you longer than they should. Maybe it’s a creative dry spell. Or maybe an adorable kid bites you at every opportunity. Eventually, there will always be something to take the magical edge off a job, even if just for the day, and because we live in a broken world, your work will sometimes feel like… work.

    In my experience, most people who love their jobs find a few things to be true: They’ve become knowledgable and competent at what they do, they have opportunities to improve themselves, their values aren’t being compromised, and they feel like they’re making a difference.

    Find a career that’s interesting and important; aligns with your natural skills, abilities, and values; and then spend your life continuing to cultivate your interest in it.

 

Oh, and don’t bother with boys yet. Your friends are a lot less confusing.

adoption

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed several posts about the importance of not giving pets as Christmas gifts. A good reminder, for sure — once the surprise wears off, that puppy could easily find itself back at a shelter. Ironically, I’ve also seen extra posts about the importance of adopting a shelter animal, especially this time of year.

the dogs

Something you should know about me before we continue: I didn’t grow up with pets. We had an outdoor basset hound when I was in elementary school for no more than a few months. I barely had time to get used to her before we realized that having an outdoor dog in an east Tennessee winter is really no bueno, so she went to live on a farm (no, really, not the “farm” all dogs go to one day…) with a family who could let her be indoor/outdoor and ride in their truck and basically have the best doggy life ever. I was honestly ambivalent about animals after that because I was never, ever around them due to my family’s many collective allergies. I never wanted harm to come to them, but when other people were saying, “I just love animals SO MUCH AOIWEHFALSHDF,” I was always like… uh, yeah, me too. Because what heartless monster doesn’t love animals to pieces?! I didn’t.

But we have a cat now. He’s our baby with sharp teeth, and I love him. Going into Petco, especially on Saturdays, makes me sad because I think of how terrible it would be if our Pippin had to spend his life in a cage. If money were no issue, I would already have three cats. (There would have to be a Merry, obviously. And maybe Minerva, as in McGonagall.)

All that to say, my love of furry creatures (particularly cats; dogs are cute but kinda make me nervous) is recent but real. Because of that, I don’t in the least begrudge anyone for advocating for shelter animals. By all means, keep encouraging people to adopt.

I had a thought recently that I haven’t been able to shake. Most people agree that adopting an animal from a shelter is the best way to go. They won’t have to live in a small, confined space anymore. They can have their needs better met. They’ll be loved.

…do we advocate this passionately for human adoption?

Do we give to organizations who counsel and support women as they decide how to handle an unplanned pregnancy? Do we sponsor children overseas? Do we foster? Do we adopt children ourselves, or help someone else in the process?

I clearly remember the night that made me decide I wanted to adopt. I was 17 years old, and Holt International was represented at a concert I was attending. I knew orphans and orphanages existed, but it had never been as real to me as it was then. After hearing their presentation, I chose a tiny Korean baby to sponsor and knew I would bring someone like her home one day.

Through the years, I have continued to support organizations like Holt whenever possible. I always had this picture in my head that Asian kids in particular needed help; I don’t even know why. I spent years looking forward to the day I would go to China and bring home my new son or daughter. I had never even remotely considered domestic adoption because I had always been told it was too complicated. The birth mother might try to take the baby back. She might change her mind before she even leaves the hospital. She and the child might want to have a relationship when they’re older, and where does that leave you? It’s messy. 

In the past year, though, my heart has changed. While I haven’t written out the possibility of adopting from another country one day, it’s become harder for me to stomach the idea of going straight to international adoption without at least trying to adopt one of the many children right here who need homes.

Everyone has different passions and callings, and thank goodness. If we all felt strongly about the exact same things, many people and things would never receive the care they need. I’m glad some people feel called to adopt from China or Ethiopia. I’m glad some feel called to foster. And I’m glad others financially support children and parents as they wait to be brought together. Not everyone will adopt, but we can all do something, from helping parents raise funds to adopt down to bringing them a meal as they adjust to life with a new child.

Below are links to ways to help women and children both domestically and internationally. I hope that you’ll consider some way of giving, big or small.

https://www.holtinternational.org/gifts/

http://www.faithfuladoptionconsultants.com

transitions + staying busy

As I’ve mentioned before, I finished grad school last year and was really excited to get to work. It had been hard to go from working and bringing in money (even just as a barista) to being a full-time student, and I was anxious to be finished with school and start contributing again. After a long (for my line of work) job search, I snagged a PRN job and thought, this is definitely my launchpad. Now that I can put some work in this field on my resume and am not a total newbie, I’ll be getting other job offers in no time. That’s what everyone said. There was no reason to think otherwise.

But it didn’t happen. I started my PRN job in April, and I saw zero interest in any of my applications aside from one interview in October that went nowhere. Otherwise, no calls, no emails — not even to tell me that they’ve gone with another applicant. And with my current job, I may work four days a week, or I may go two weeks without a single hour of work. It’s impossible to predict what they may need. For the past several months, more often than not, I have been without work. What’s worse is that my confidence is shot; applying for new jobs feels useless. I just got hired for a social media job, and I am so, so much more excited about this position than anything I’ve looked at related to my actual career path. Still, it’s only part time, and I haven’t actually started yet.

And the thing everyone wants to know — family, friends, even co-workers: “Well if you’re not working, what are you doing to stay busy?” With some people, this happens every single time we talk.

The response I would love to give:
“Seven.”
“What?”
“Seven. On a scale of one to ten, that’s how depressed this question is making me feel right now.”

I know people mean well, but here’s the thing. There’s only so much time you can spend searching job boards before you’ve seen it all. There’s only so much time you can spend filling out applications and following up with employers before you start losing your mind. That leaves a lot of time left over. While I would love to give an exciting answer as to how I use it, there isn’t one… and it’s painful to have such frequent reminders.

I started this blog several months ago to have a creative outlet. I created an etsy shop selling wreaths to have some extra income. To be honest, I have absolutely loved both of these projects, and I don’t know if I would have started them “if I hadn’t had all this time,” much like Kathleen Kelly probably wouldn’t have written a children’s book in You’ve Got Mail if she hadn’t been put out of business. They have both been so much fun, and I’ve been really thankful to discover two things I love doing so much.

On the other hand, the average day is kind of… depressing. I don’t really know people in Nashville, so I’m typically cleaning, reading, hanging out with my cat, and watching Friends or Fixer Upper, waiting for my husband to come home. (It’s also hard to blog when life doesn’t feel simple or full.)

And then these well-meaning people ask what I’ve been doing, and I want to cry. I’m embarrassed about going such long periods of time without work. I’m angry about the number of times I have to say, “No, I haven’t worked since we last talked. No, I don’t have any days scheduled coming up. No, I haven’t been doing much.” And in those rare moments when I feel at peace with the way my life has turned out for the moment, when I love all the books I’m reading and am proud of the wreaths I’m making, I can’t bring myself to say it. I quickly plummet back down to embarrassment because no one is “supposed to” feel okay about doing so little.

I understand that people are typically asking out of concern. They know that it’s hard being in a new city and not knowing anyone, and they want to make sure I’m okay. Really, I get it. But it’s hard for my satisfaction in my quiet life to hang around more than a day or two when I get near constant reminders that I’m supposed to be doing more — as if my brain isn’t fighting the impulse to dwell there 24/7.

I’ve struggled for weeks with how to end this post (also secretly hoping that it would become irrelevant). If I knew how to end it well, I might also have an idea of how to make more sense of what’s going on. But I can say this: if someone you know is going through a rough transition, 1.) just be there. Having people to consistently talk with makes everything easier, and 2.) take your cues from us. We may need to talk about anything but our situation. We don’t think you care less about us for not asking about work/friends/whatever the transition may involve; in fact, it will probably be a relief if you don’t. If we need to talk about it, we will. If not, we will be so relieved to talk about anything and everything else.

Love and support your transitioning friends well. We need you. But, please, don’t inadvertently heap anxiety on us by asking us how we’re staying busy.

the skill of saying no (+ a brief book review)

Have you ever thought about your ability to set boundaries? I always thought I was pretty good at it, considering how disciplined I was when it came to school work. I was mostly a straight-A student all the way through my education. As I got older, I learned to structure my time better (i.e. I stopped waiting till the last possible second to start projects). I even got up at 5 a.m. for a year and a half to go to classes at 7 a.m.

But socially? I was always kind of a wreck. In elementary school I spent years being “friends” with people who repeatedly gave me the silent treatment for things out of my control, yet I begged them to be my friend again. I was slapped, shoved, and even bitten by one girl almost daily for an entire year, and all I did was cry and hope she would start being nice to me. In college, a girl I considered a friend was only interested in being around me when she needed something — like the time she tried to pay me to do her prob & stats homework — and, in retrospect, I realized that had defined our relationship for years; however, I naively hoped that if I showed an interest in what she liked, she’d want to be my friend for real. I did things in the name of ministry (and fitting in with my youth group/college group) that I didn’t really want to do, but I pretended it was amazing. To this day, I often find myself saying yes when my brain is screaming NO.

My track record isn’t great.

When I heard about the book Boundaries by Drs. Cloud and Townsend, I was immediately interested, so about a week ago I checked it out and read part of it. I say “part of,” because I was disappointed to find some seriously sketchy theology fairly early in the book. For instance, according to the authors, we have boundaries separating us from God, and He honors that by not overstepping our human boundaries… I’m sorry, what?! Do they really think we have anything that the almighty God doesn’t know, see, or give? Are there things He’s not allowed to do because it might hurt our feelings? There was also a pretty liberal use of scripture citations without context, and sometimes even scripture in quotes without telling readers where in the Bible it came from. SUSPECT. It often seemed as though they found verses that kinda seemed to back up their points in an attempt to demonstrate that what they were saying is absolutely true. Like I said, sketchy. The concepts about setting boundaries — and what a lack of boundaries looks like — were fascinating, but I’d honestly rather read a secular psychologist’s book and view it through the lens of the Bible than to read one where scripture is twisted to say what the author wants it to say. I can’t in good conscience recommend the book.

So… did anything good come from reading 103 pages of Boundaries?

The first few pages of the book detail a day in the life of a person without boundaries, and, holy cow, it hit close to home. I wish I still had the book just so I could quote this section. This woman is guilted into taking important time away from her family so that she can tend to her lonely mother’s repeated unannounced visits to her house. She looks forward to a women’s weekend conference with her church so that she can have some valuable quiet time, only to agree to step in as the conference’s coordinator after the original coordinator dropped out. A friend calls to talk about her difficult day, taking up the woman’s entire lunch break, without asking how she was. The list goes on and on.

At first glance, these things may not look so bad, or at least they look normal enough — even unavoidable. The sad and oh so real thing is that this woman gritted her teeth and took on more than she could handle physically and emotionally, all because she felt it was her Christian duty. After all, we’re supposed to sacrifice ourselves for each other, right? Even if we’re exhausted and have other responsibilities, wouldn’t it be selfish to turn down someone else’s request because of something happening in our own lives? This woman chided herself for even considering denying what other people asked of her. She was needed, she thought, so it didn’t really matter what else she had going on in her personal life.

Except that she was sleep deprived. Her marriage and children suffered from her inability to say no to others who “needed” her and to hold her children accountable to rules. And, above all, she resented the sacrifices she “had” to make… yet repeatedly chose to say yes to whatever was asked, believing that she was serving God, wondering what was wrong with her that kept her from feeling happy about her selflessness.

I’ve seen this so many times. Frustration at having to give up an entire Saturday to be a speaker at a church event designed to encourage other women. Frustration at having to coordinate all the church nursery volunteers because you were the first person considered after the former coordinator stepped down. Frustration at having to lead a praise band when you’d rather be working in other areas of the church. How often does “serving God” come from a place of “have to” and resentment?

I would argue that many people, particularly Christian women, fail to understand options. Because they’re known to have talents, they feel trapped into using them at every single opportunity, and they lack the ability to say, “Thank you, but I need to pass on this one. I need this time for my own walk with Jesus/marriage/relationships.” It’s like we pride ourselves on being the busiest, most frazzled church workers who treat every request as if it’s a command and still try to claim that it’s a joy. We should absolutely use our gifts and abilities to glorify God and help others — but joyfully. When joy is missing, it’s bondage rather than service. And, more often than not, we put ourselves in this bondage.

When it comes to serving others, particularly in the church, we tend to put each other on the spot when it comes to filling jobs, and it’s difficult to say no. We want to be a team player and show that we love Jesus and people. But whether you’ve been asked to head yet another committee due to your true leadership abilities, or you’ve been asked to serve in the nursery just because you’re a living breathing female, I believe it’s better not to do it at all than to do it with resentment in your heart, without true, joyful worship.

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
– Luke 10:38-42, ESV

dairy-free strawbana breakfast smoothie

Like Ron Swanson, I take breakfast very seriously. I am at my hungriest in the morning, and I want to make something quickly and know that it will definitely be tasty and filling. (One time I didn’t eat enough breakfast and fainted at school. Never again.) Lots of mornings I quickly scramble a couple of eggs. Easy. But some mornings I’m just not in the mood for eggs, so I turn to a smoothie. I used to make the same smoothie for breakfast all the time before I ran into some food intolerances. It was delicious… and chock full of dairy (a full cup of yogurt served as the protein).

Because I’m a fan of certainty in the mornings, I didn’t want to experiment with a new smoothie concoction. Historically I haven’t been great at making up new smoothie recipes (that’s putting it gently), so I knew there was a very real chance that it wouldn’t go well, and I’d have to spend more time making something else while I just got hangrier and hangrier. That was not an option…at the moment.

Before long, though, I really missed smoothies, so I surrendered to protein powder. And it was weird trial period. The texture was mealy, the ingredients I added tasted bland overall, and it was hard to end up with the right amount of smoothie. Finally, though, I have my new standby.

Ron Swanson would not approve of this smoothie, or any smoothie for that matter. But it is so, so tasty.

Dairy-free Strawbana Smoothie
8 oz milk of choice (I use coconut or almond)
1 banana
6-8 strawberries
1 serving protein powder
1 T cocoa powder
1 big spoonful of coconut oil (and/or coconut butter)
Ice (optional — I don’t add any if my strawberries are frozen)

Serves 1 (16 oz)

The first few times I made this, I didn’t add the coconut oil, but now I think it’s absolutely essential. It adds a bit of creaminess without an overpowering coconut flavor, and it supplies you with the belly-filling, brain-supporting, blood-sugar-balancing fat that was sorely lacking before.

If you tolerate nuts, nut butter could be subbed in for the cocoa powder. I also want to experiment with adding spinach… sometime… when I’m feeling brave.

Enjoy!

modesty

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve started to write this post and chickened out at the last minute. Modesty is an institution and, in many circles, it should never, ever be questioned. But hear me out.

For the past few months, I’ve been struggling with the idea of modesty.

This has been my first Nashville summer. The temperatures here are consistently several degrees warmer than they are in my hometown. Some days, it’s really uncomfortable to go outside, even just walking to the car. I have lived in tank tops and shorts. I often wondered if I should be covering more skin, even though many days have been 95 degrees or so, and covering more of my top or bottom half would have meant being even more uncomfortable. (To be clear, I am careful not to show cleavage, torso, or bra straps, and while my shorts are the shortest I’ve ever worn, they have a longer inseam than many in stores).

Growing up, my youth group leaders preached modesty — not the brand that says women should only wear skirts, not show knees, etc. (a la the Duggar family), but what I would call the more common evangelical view: none of the three B’s (boobs, butt, belly), not too much thigh, and, ideally, as little shoulder as possible (interestingly, there are no rules for guys aside from no saggin’ pants).

I took modesty very seriously. In dressing rooms, I did lots of bending and squatting to make sure there would be no mishaps in the clothes I was test driving. I always wore jackets and sweaters with sleeveless dresses, even if my shoulders and back wouldn’t have shown regardless. I spent most of my summers roasting in capris. And at pool parties, I was an over-achiever: rather than wear a one-piece suit OR a two-piece with a shirt, I wore a tankini with shorts (for more coverage than a one-piece) AND a t-shirt. Even then, I felt guilty about showing my legs.

Modesty was ingrained in us from a young age. Why, then, did the rules change with the fashions? I remember being extremely confused when the same people who encouraged us to wear skirts to the knee or longer changed their message once above-the-knee dresses became more popular. Even more confusing was the message about pants. First, they didn’t want girls to wear pants in church at all (you wouldn’t believe the nasty looks I got from girls my own age when I wore dress pants to church one night when temperatures were lower than my age; even then, I “should’ve” been in a skirt). Then, we could wear them as long as they weren’t too tight. So basically, no skinny jeans — although the flared jeans we wore weren’t much different; they just concealed the shape of our ankles. But once skinny jeans became almost all that was available in stores, there was silence from our youth group leaders, and we could wear them anytime we wanted — even leading worship on the stage, the one place it had been completely forbidden not long before.

If that doesn’t sound so bad to you, I would agree, kind of. It was SO exciting to finally be able to wear pants to church, even some of the time, and wearing cute, stylish dresses that were slightly above the knee was fun. What bothered me was that, the more I thought about it, modesty was both legalistic and a moving target.

I have wondered how I should teach my daughter about modesty one day. She’ll have rules while she’s living in our house, but I want her to have a better understanding of why she’s dressing herself the way she is so she can make the decisions for herself, as a teenager and an adult. As a believer, I wanted to know what the Bible said about how to dress, rather than only looking at our modern norms. A quick search of the Bible for “modest” or “modesty” only yields one result regarding dress (although I’m sure this isn’t the only reference in the Bible on how to dress).

“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” – 1 Timothy 2:9-10

Often, I think we see these verses and think, “See! The Bible says we should dress modestly. So cover up!” I never dared question this, but… what does this verse actually say about “modesty” as we know it? Very little. There is no “thou shalt not wear skinny jeans” or “thou shalt wear a cardigan over thine sundress.” We are to dress with decency and propriety (sounds like more of a judgment call guided by the Holy Spirit than a list of rules), and we are not to be lavish and showy.

According to this, it seems to me (as someone who is definitely not a Bible scholar) that modesty is mainly about choosing from the heart to not draw special attention to your body. Many of the standards we’ve formed over the years can absolutely serve that purpose. However, I think we need to get back to the heart of why we do what we do. As believers, our number one job is to bring glory to God in everything we do. And since clothes are a requirement of everyday life, they should be a reflection of that aim. Not that we necessarily need to wear (often corny) Christian tees or buy our clothes a size too big, but nothing we wear and nothing we do should say to those around us that my life is all about ME. It is no longer important to a believer to have people admire us for our bodies. It’s not even important to be perfectly in style. It is important that our love and deeds show Christ to others.

This isn’t to say I’ve thrown the whole idea of modesty as we commonly know it out the window. I still do lots of bending and squatting in dressing rooms to ensure that I can comfortably do anything I need to in any clothes I consider — which includes not showing my boobs to the world. In a way, I still do have guidelines I follow. More than that, though, my aim is to examine each item I wear and ask myself why I’m choosing it. Is it comfortable, functional, and flattering? Or is it designed to make people look at me?

This is absolutely a complex issue; the more I think about it, the more I realize there may not be a simple answer to any aspect of it. I’m still chewing on it myself and realize that there are many aspects I haven’t touched on here, but I wanted to get my thoughts thus far written out. What are your thoughts about modesty?

back to school shopping… kind of

It’s September! So it’s basically fall! Never mind that just about every day of this month so far has reached over 90 degrees. School and the PSL are both back. It’s fall.

This is the time of year I want to buy all the things. After 17 years (not including grad school — holy smokes) of back to school shopping, it’s hard not to think that it must be time to go buy clothes.

Buuuut, I’m not in school. That one little detail makes it a little hard to justify buying lots of new clothes. On top of that, at the moment I have one PRN job and am looking for more work, so I’m kind of in work-clothes limbo as well; no need to buy more when I have no idea what the dress code will be if/when I get another job.

I try to be careful about not having an excess of clothes (which I touched on here), but I do think it’s good to do a little wardrobe refresh occasionally. There are a few things I plan to keep in mind as I shop this fall. Hopefully.🙂

  1. Make it versatile. Having a clothes board on Pinterest is so telling. I looked through mine to get some ideas, and what I came away with was a clear picture of what I’m drawn to: grays, black, navy, maroon, and green. Occasionally aqua or mustard make their way onto the board, but there are entire sections you can scroll through where everything that fits on the screen is gray. While this definitely has potential to get boring,  it’s also an opportunity to maximize my wardrobe. By sticking to a basic color palette that works for me, it’ll be easier to put outfits together without spending too much precious morning time staring at my closet.
  2. Consider what you already have. This is so fundamental that it almost seems silly to say it, yet I find that I often don’t think at all about what I own when I’m buying new clothes. I tend to buy random things here and there that don’t work with anything I have at home. Then it sits there because I don’t know how to wear it, but I also don’t want to take it back. At that point, you almost have to buy something else to go with it. Not a great spiral to be in.
  3. Consider what you actually need. I’m accustomed to having a pretty extensive casual wardrobe and just a couple of outfits’ worth of grown-up, work appropriate clothes. Now that I’m out of school, I obviously have needed to get more work clothes, but I don’t know what I really need in the casual, everyday department. I’m down to two good pairs of jeans, and surprisingly, I’ve realized I probably don’t need more than that. Gone are the days of needing around seven good pairs, and it’s requiring a pretty concerted effort to not stock up out of habit.
  4. Find something to do other than shop. When the weather cools down, we’re a little lower on options for places to go and just hang out. For me, the mall was always my default place when I just wanted to go somewhere, whether alone or with a friend. That makes things complicated when you’re on a budget — and who isn’t? Do yourself (and whoever you’re with) a favor by not dangling all the pretties in front of your face. The library is my new favorite place to be when I’m alone. Coffee shops, bakeries, and each other’s homes are great options. And who says you can’t throw on a jacket and still go to the park or take a walk? Basically, you can’t buy scarves and sweaters if you can’t see them.

What are some other ways you keep spending on clothes in check?