Category Archives: Life

Lesson #7: Get out of your head. {Year #2}

12/16/17.

Get out of your head.

Naturally, it seems like the safest place to be.

But cabin fever of the brain is just as real as cabin fever of the body.

Sometimes in the midst of a blizzard, you need to get outside and play.

Make snow angels in the middle of the storm.

Lesson 7, Year 2.

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Lesson #5: Sink or swim. {Year #2}

12/14/17.

Advice: People love to give it, but rarely talk about the steps you have to take beyond the surface.

They say step out of your comfort zone. It’s where you’ll grow the most; it’s where you’ll be tested and challenged and stretched. This kind of advice leads you to the water but doesn’t really teach you how to swim.

I’m no better than “they.” I’ve realized that I’ve given pretty general advice my whole life, too. Take the leap. Follow your dreams. Push yourself. But today as I was pushed out of my own comfort zone once more, I began thinking about what it actually takes to dive deep in unknown waters.

I think it’s confidence.

When you’re pushed off the side of the boat, Confidence becomes your oxygen tank, your goggles, your life vest, your lifeline, your everything. Actually —

You can’t think it’s confidence. You have to know it’s confidence.

And swim like your life depends on it — because it does.

New waters call for a new attitude.

The answer is not “No” or “I don’t know how” or “I can’t.” It’s “Yes” and “I will find out” and “I can.”

You pick up speed once you begin sailing.

I know, I know — nothing is as simple as that. It’ll take some trial and error. You’ll flip the boat and get tangled in rope. You’ll float into fog and learn how to re-navigate. Shake off the sand and laugh before you even see the horizon — it’s coming. You have to take on new form. A liquid only thinks it’s a liquid until it becomes solid. A solid doesn’t know it can become a gas until it does.

When you lose comfortability, you gain confidence.

What other option do you have?

It’s game on.

It’s sink or swim.

Keep your head up and out, kid.

You’ll get the hang of it.

Lesson 5, Year 2.

A year of lessons, a year later.

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7/20/16.

WHAT?

I can’t believe a year ago today I finished writing A Year Of Lessons. It was absolutely one of (if not the) most transformative experiences of my life to this day. It wasn’t just a year that I lived and documented, but it was one that I created and shaped because I intentionally chose to see something special (both the good AND bad) in every single day. I learned gratitude and dedication and vulnerability and perspective and persistance and all those nights sitting on my college apartment floor at 3am after a horribly long day but still writing and hating my life finally added up to something. Looking back today, A Year Of Lessons was such a wonderful gift I granted to my future self, and hopefully to some of you all who hopped on the ride and read along.

This is exactly why I’m so in love with storytelling and words and writing and art, and sharing it with others. Because it’s a message from the past for the future. When I was unpacking my very last box from college a few weeks ago, at the top of the box was the first month of lessons from my blog printed out on paper. I read some of them and was completely shocked at the effect it had on me: I cringed at some, laughed at others, and couldn’t stop the smile on my face from spreading at most. The words on these pages were still so powerful, and reminded me what I still need to learn but also how far I’ve come. Later that day, I was editing my new podcast (https://soundcloud.com/user-986375572) (eep so excited) and something a professor said in an interview over three months ago had beautiful meaning then, but in that very moment, in my circumstances at that point in time, it moved me to tears. Stories are like time capsules. It’s a gift; a whisper and a warm smile from God saying, “You need this.” Words can move us and transform us and they transcend time and space. They’re little messages. Little signs.

This blog was never just a blog to me. The writing was never just writing. The job you hold, the things you go through, the people you meet… they’re never just that. They are experiences, and they are lessons waiting to happen. At such a crucial time in my life where I’m at a crossroad beginning a new journey that i’m not 100% sure about it (I’m working in DC!!! This was not my original plan at all!!! But I’m excited!!! And scared!!! And also confused at how one metros!!!), this was the perfect reminder to be open, be excited, and to learn.

Thank you, AYOL.

And thank you to you all.

Both are forever engrained in my heart. <3

All my love,

<3

Mia (Your newest post graduate… I did it!)

To stay updated with me and my ~crazy~ life, and to hear about my future/current projects, follow me on my social media accounts!

Twitter: @yourstrulymia_

Instagram: @yourstrulymia

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PS… something that’s square and binded together and may have a little (or a lot) to do with A Year Of Lessons may be happening sometime in the near future… stay tuned ;)

Lesson #365: The final lesson.

7/20/15.

The day I started this blog, I was on my closet floor crying because it felt like my life had become a continuous bad day.

Now I’m sitting here on a mocha-colored couch outside of a coffee shop all the way across the country in California, typing my last lesson, and still crying.

It’s good to know some things don’t change.

When I woke up today, all I could think was:

“Mia. It’s been 365 days.”

I couldn’t grasp the number. Trying to process it was like standing on the edge of a cliff, looking out at the vastness, and becoming overwhelmed with fear.

Except I had already done it.

Four seasons, twelve months, 365 days.

I can’t begin to explain the amount of joy, the depth of gratitude, the undeniable sadness, and the expanse of excitement I am feeling right now.

It’s been 365 days, and my life has changed in ways I never thought it would, or could. I have experienced so many things and seen so much in just a single year, and I’ve gotten to express every part of it.

A few months ago, someone told me something. I never wrote it into a lesson because something seemingly more prominent stole the day, but I remember scrambling to write it down, and hoping and praying that the right time would come along again to share it with you all. And I think today is that day.

It literally felt like everything I knew was falling apart in that moment and in the moments that followed—and I’m sure you’ve all experienced the feeling. I walked to work sobbing, and although I cleared my eyes in time before checking in with my boss, she knew something was wrong. After confiding in her, she told me something I’ll never forget.

“The reality of it now is not the reality of it forever—I promise.”

And after this year, and this blog, nothing in my life has ever rang more true.

It just so happens that I started this blog during a dark time in my life, and now it’s ending during the best.

In the nowhere-near-linear process of this turn around, I’ve learned so, so much. Perfection isn’t real. Money can’t buy you happiness. It takes time and guts to heal. Run with full abandon towards what you love, and cut loose what you don’t. Culture and beauty is everywhere. You are seen. People are shitty. People are fantastic. Life is great—or at least it can be if you make it.

From New York to Maryland to North Carolina to Florida. From my beloved hometown of Virginia Beach, VA, to my second life at school in the mountains of Harrisonburg, VA, to landing my dream internship in Los Angeles, California.

It’s been 365 days since I pressed the little blue button to create this account, and hit “publish” on a lesson for the very first time. If I’m being honest—I cannot begin to tell you how utterly happy and relieved I am that I don’t have to come home exhausted at the end of every night and write a lesson. But I also can’t begin tell you how truly sad I am to let this piece of my life go. It’s not every day you get to say you documented each day of your life for an entire year, until you do. And now that it’s over, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do without my little escape, my outlet, and my canvas for words.

There are truly no words for how bittersweet this is. And if there is a step beyond having no words, then I really have none for how extremely grateful I am.

First, I am always completely and entirely thankful for my God. I know that none of the events in my life go without reason, and that my main man has been by my side through it all. Many times throughout this year my head was more focused on my feet than the sky. I loathed how distracted, busy, and cloudy minded I could be—but He never once left me. I am grateful for the good. I am grateful for the bad. And I am continually and eternally grateful for the grace of God. Even though this (literal) chapter of my life is ending, I am excited to see where He will guide me next.

To my wonderful parents, my special friends, and some really great family members—thank you. Not just for giving me great moments to learn from, but for always pushing me and encouraging me. Nights got HARD. Some days I had so much to do that I wouldn’t be able to start my lesson until 1am. My three options were usually to 1) suck it up and write, 2) cry and write, or 3) go to sleep, wake up the next morning, and then cry and write because now I was behind on a post when I “promised” I never would be. But your constant love and support has been something that’s carried me through, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. All it took was one little comment on the blog or on Facebook or walking across campus to make me look forward to writing the next one. It’s the simple things. You each had a hand in inspiring all these people as well. And I thank you. You know who you are.

To the not so great people—I want to thank you too. After this year, I have a better idea of the kind of people I do and don’t want in my life. I’ve learned that people can teach who you don’t want to be and what you don’t want to be like, and those lessons are just as important. You all have been blessings in my life as well.

To the guest lessonists—thank you for being apart of something so special. Thank you for telling your story.

And of course—the readers. You are all so special to me. Thank you for lending a listening ear. I hope you have all learned and grown in some way. If you remember just one thing from these 365 days—then I’ve done my job.

I thank this blog for allowing me the space to not be perfect. I thank this blog for teaching me about self control and dedication—but for also teaching me about the fact that shit happens. Living comes before anything else, and you have to momentarily leave all guilt and thoughts if you’re going to do it fully. I thank this blog for teaching me how to be scared, but doing it (or writing it) anyway. I thank this blog for teaching me to live with thicker skin, but to be open, honest, and vulnerable.

Most of all, I want to thank this blog for challenging me to look for the best in each and every single day—especially when there was no “best” in the day—for confronting it, expressing it, and turning it into something meaningful.

I will miss this so much.

I no longer have an excuse to find the best in each day—but I hope this year has taught me how.

It’s good to know some things don’t change.

But it’s good to know some things do.

This blog has added so much color to my life. It been more than a blog for me; it has been a journey. And I can’t believe I did it.

It feels weird coming to the end. It feels like I’m not finished; like there’s so much more to say.

And that’s because there is.

The lessons we learn are perennial. They will continue to arise in many shapes, sizes, and forms.

It all branches on one big tree. They stem from the root of life, and they turn out to all be a part of the same foundation. I’ve found that all lessons all come back to the same core concepts, and this is what I’ve come to know.

Do what makes you happy,

be passionate, compassionate, and kind,

and always, always, always keep learning.

The world will keep telling us this time and time again.

And so will I.

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Day 365.

“What is rest? A question from the girl with mono.” A guest lesson by Nikki Gregg.

I am one to work hard all the time, without stopping. A lot of us do. During the semester, my days were no shorter than thirteen hours. This summer my hours are just as long.

I work hard. I work hard all the time. I push myself to the limit and then crash when the semester ends or the midterms are over, but something happened this week that threw me a curveball. I was diagnosed with mono yesterday, which is forcing me to take time to slow down and truly rest.

I found out my sore throat, aching body, extreme exhaustion, and little appetite for the last week was more than the common cold, but a serious virus that will take me weeks or months to get over. While I was working at my internship and serving tables at a restaurant in the city, it wasn’t until a week after feeling terrible before making time to see a doctor.…who told me exactly how sick I am.

She told me I needed to rest, but seriously…what is rest? I have been so caught up in hard work so that I can be successful. I have to get this grade on this test. I need to get this job, this internship. If I don’t do this or this I won’t get into graduate school. The list goes on and on, and as time goes on… the days of rest, nights of relaxation, and my time to do things that give me joy have all become restricted from the limitation of time.

Well, now I have all the time in the world to figure out what rest looks like, feels like again. In our culture most of us don’t know what it means to fully rest. We go on little hours of sleep, and push ourselves so hard that we run ourselves down, and ignore what our bodies are telling us. We ignore needs like food, to make meetings and study for tests. I know someone who didn’t make enough time to shower during midterms of her freshman year. I remember one midterm week that I was so hysterical from sleep deprivation I was walking in circles around campus.

This is not normal. We need sleep. Food. Good Hygiene.

So while you may not have mono but if you feel run-down, exhausted, overwhelmed…join me in taking some time to rest for yourself. Your mind. Your body. Your overall health.

To be better, to be there for other people… we must take care of ourselves first.

-Lesson by Nikki Gregg-

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Lesson #363: You can’t make them understand.

7/19/15.

Wait.

I can explain.

I swear this is not as angsty as it sounds.

As you all may know, I’m in Los Angeles for the summer with 20 other students. I have an internship that I love in which I work from 9am to 6pm—give or take—four days a week. Tack on an hour before and after those times to factor my the traffic-heavy commute, and that’s an eleven hour day. The one weekday I don’t have my internship, I’m in two entertainment industry classes for a total of six hours of my day. We have a homework assignment and mini-project for the classes each week. Weekends are “free,” but they’re packed with adventure, considering we’re only here for two months.

Welcome to my life in California.

I like to have fun, and I want to make memories. But as you may have sensed in previous lessons,

I like to keep busy.

My to-do list is constantly growing and growing, I’m constantly up to a million things, and I’m always on the go.

The trip is quickly coming to an end, and there are so many “real life” things I need to complete before my time on the west coast is over.

Let me fill you in on how my list is looking.

I need to complete a final project that consists of putting together a verbal and visual television series pitch, start an original screenplay that’s due before the first day of my final video production class at the end of August, finish the editing of a wedding video that I shot over a month ago in June, film and edit two fun and informative videos for my internship that I planned on making before I leave E! (that are not required… I’m just an overachiever), organize additional research that I put together prior to the start of my internship into something presentable and feasible, edit together clips of my LA adventures for my YouTube series (which is currently just not happening), plan and edit a book trailer for a close friend and client, and stay on top of this blog just days before it’s over.

My head is actually spinning.

Sometimes I don’t know where to start. Like Andy advised, my plan has been to work deadline to deadline.

But what are you supposed to do when your deadlines are all at the same time—and there’s 4 or 5 of them to meet?

On top of the stress coming from myself and the looming projects I’ve created,

there’s the stress coming from others—whether they mean to induce it or not.

I am truly struggling with the balance to make this experience the best that it can be (though it already has been—no doubt in my mind), and being productive.

What makes this to-do list more stressful than any other I’ve had before, is that in one way or another, my future depends on the success of a lot of the items.

Most of my life questions in the past month have gone like this:

Stay in on this beautiful Friday night to write a blog post and work on whatever which project?

Or go out on the town and have the time of my life?

Like I said, I’ve been having an absolute ball why I’m out here. I never pass up the super big opportunities, but it’s the little ones here and there that add up to make me feel guilty and a little bit sad sometimes.

One thing that I pride myself on, is that give everything I do 100%. Ask anyone who knows me: I’ll stay up until 5am to get something exactly the way I want it. In one lesson a while back, Chiquita mentioned that whenever we put our name on something—we put our stamp of excellence on it. And I live by that. I move slower because of my attention to detail, and I am self conscious about that a lot of the times. People tell me that my work ethic is good, and other people tell me that my work ethic bad—but I don’t need anyone to tell me that I know it’s both.

I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember, walking through my life with my hands full at all times. My friends are usually supportive and encouraging, and many understand. But at the same time, I’m definitely not a stranger to shady looks and judgement from people (even those who are close) who don’t understand why I am the way am, and the amount of work it takes to constantly be creating.

You work too hard. You do too much. Why don’t you just go to bed? Why don’t you do it a different time? Why do you do it at all? Why don’t you just go out and have a good time for once? Why do you never go with us?

I know that I need sleep. I know that I should have fun. I know that I am only skin and bones, and that I’m human, and that I have limitations. I know that to a certain degree, these people are definitely right.

But I do know that how I feel and the passion for the things I take on are right, too.

On Tuesday, I met up with a new friend, Mojan.

She is a wonderful and beautiful person, making it on her own in LA. She did the same program two years ago as I’m doing now. After Mojan finished her internship at Fox that summer, she immediately knew she wanted to move to Los Angeles. Upon returning to her junior year of college, she took double the classes, talked her way into getting the right signatures, graduated a year early, and moved to California. She’s now an Executive Assistant at ABC, as well as an actor, model, and singer.

I saw so much of myself in her that it was scary. Every piece of advice she was giving me related directly to every thought and concern that I’m having in my life right about now.

One of the very first things she told me was this.

“People wont understand, and you don’t have to make them. It’s not your job, and you shouldn’t have to.”

Mojan told me that when she went back to school after that summer—and even when she returned home after moving to California—many people questioned her career choice, her career path, and how she was going about all of it. They didn’t get the long hours, and the instability of it all, and the fact that you have to work your way up without knowing what’s next in order to get to where you want to be.

I’ve always felt a little surge of frustration upon hearing things like this too—even on my small scale of staying in to finish a project and constantly having to hear about it.

Although I understood the exact feeling of frustration that she was talking about, it was one of those things where I didn’t really realize how much it bothered me until someone else pinpointed exactly how I was feeling.

You know you aren’t crazy, because someone else has felt it too.

I thought that one day—especially in LA—it would magically become clear to me.

I thought that all of a sudden, I would be able to discern between when it’s the right time to have fun, and when it’s the right time to be productive.

But it’s not that easy, because nothing ever is.

I don’t think it ever will be.

But from what I’ve learned, from what I’ve experienced, and by the Grace of God—

something has become a little bit clearer to me.

Here’s what I know.

Believe in yourself and in what you do, and never stop.

It’s not going to be easy.

And you yourself are going to want to quit at times.

But just know that in the end—

if this is what you want, and if this is ultimately what brings you joy—

the blood, sweat, and tears (I know about this one) are so, so worth it.

And you’re the only one who needs to understand that.

Day 363.

Lesson #362: The tale of a perfectionist’s nightmare.

7/17/15.

As a detail-oriented perfectionist, I bring this news to you with a heavy heart.

You don’t have to get it perfect the first time around.

At my internship, a good percentage of my time goes into transcribing interviews.

Word for word, we write down exactly what the interviewer and interviewee are saying in the video. It helps when a producer can quickly scan over a log to decide which pieces of the interview they want for a story, rather than having to watch and listen to minutes and minutes of footage.

Keep in mind that these interviews are usually ten or fifteen minutes; sometimes thirty minutes to an hour.

This whole time, my strategy was to listen to each sentence, write down exactly what they were saying, and then move on to the next one.

The two other interns I work with were finishing much quicker than I was. I was disheartened and confused as to why it was taking me longer. I quietly chugged along, my fingers quickly flying over the keyboard.

Today, I decided I didn’t want to feel that way anymore.

I wanted to know what I was doing differently, so I asked.

Another intern named Sarah told me the method to her madness:

Do now, fix later.

She would press play, write as much as she could, pause it, and then do that all over again until she reached a break in the questions and answers. She wouldn’t look back at the section until the end, then she would go back and add missing words and take out wrong ones and fix misspellings.

What.

Why hadn’t I been doing that all along?

I was so intent on getting it perfect the first time in order to dodge having to go back and fix a mess that I kind of made a mess anyway.

Or at least—I made a mess of myself.

The truth is, you waste your sweet time by walking on egg shells, correcting everything gone astray, and avoiding making a mess.

Because let’s be real.

You’re going to make a mistake, regardless.

Today I learned that sometimes you have to let things go wrong before they go right.

And while I bring you this news with a heavy heart,

I also bring it to you with a huge sigh of relief.

Make a mess.

You’re going to do it anyway.

Day 362.