On Living Alone


Spoiler alert.... I love it.

It's been some time since I've just chatted things out, so grab a glass of wine and let me tell you some things. When I did the whole "ask me" Q&A on Instagram, I was surprised how many people were interested in my living situation. A lot of "how is it living alone?" or requests on tips for living alone. I thought the topic was a good one and deserved its own post. I moved into my own apartment two months ago and have totally adjusted to living alone again. A big change from having three roommates or from living with family during my in between leases phase. I've lived alone once before, a year out of college, but I had a boyfriend who spent the night 80% of the time, so that doesn't count.

When I made the decision to start looking for my own one bedroom, I was definitely a bit nervous about it for several reasons. The thought of being lonely crossed my mind multiple times... I'm v single right now. The thought of being a hermit also crossed my mind. It's so easy to be lazy and not make plans. But I'm doing it and I'm loving it. So here are my thoughts.

First, the moving and decorating part...

save and plan first

If you're thinking about living alone, I definitely recommend saving up before you make the move. Even if that means moving home (like I did) for a few months to save on rent, do it. Remember to also plan ahead for moving expenses. I had to put down a full month's rent for my deposit and the first month's rent within the same week, plus also pay for a moving truck to rent for the day. I had a wishlist for all the furniture I needed. I thought about all the expenses for basics on top of that. Things you don't always thinking about... like lightbulbs, tools, cleaning supplies, vacuum or broom, bathroom stuff, and alllllllll the kitchen necessities. You get the point. Plan ahead and save as much as you can. At 28, I wanted to invest in good pieces and my own stuff that would last me a lifetime. So, I had to save $$$, rather than just taking whatever furniture I could get fo free. Make a budget, have a spending plan.

make the space yours, take your time

You living alone = doing whatever the fuck you want with your space. Hell. Yes. This has 100% been my favorite thing about living alone so far. And definitely the most fun. There's nothing like the excitement of decorating your own apartment. Don't be afraid to have a lot of pink or hang up that boobs shower curtain (wink wink) while you're not living with a bf or partner who may influence home decor later in your life. This is the time to make it your own. As you start to feel like the space is more lived in, it will feel homier, and you won't mind spending time alone there. 

be smart about buying

While you may feel anxious to fill the space, take your time. Every time I've moved, I've always been hasty in filling a space, making impulse buys and also... stupid ones. That whole feeling of just wanting the place to feel complete is too real. This time around I'm really putting thought into the furniture items I buy. Prioritizing is key... I needed a bed, couch, dresser, dining table... you get it. Then lamps, a tv, etc. When I find an item I love, I spend hours looking for it in a better price. Don't buy right away, do some research. I'm also a major fan of vintage, so a lot of what I have I found from vintage shops over the past year for really good prices. Make a list and decide what you'd spend good money on. For me, it was my bed and my couch. All my other furniture items are second hand or good quality stuff that look nice, but don't break the bank. I also found lighting that was affordable. Don't spend $500 on a trendy lamp, put that towards a great mattress or sofa or a bunch of art to hang. You know what I mean? My go-tos for my home decor have been local shops, Chairish, Urban Outfitters, Ikea, CB2, and West Elm. 

Ok. Now the living alone part...

make plans often

If living alone has taught me anything, it's make sure to have a social life. Personally, I'm someone who is very social, but I also really enjoy my alone time (an extroverted introvert as one might say). However, when you work from home twice a week and don't have roommates to chill on the couch with, you may go insane without proper plans and people. I always take a look at my week ahead and make plans. Usually that means  doing something at least three nights a week, a happy hour or two, then definitely something Friday or Saturday night. I also get out of the apartment when I work from home if I can.. like going the The Wing or a cafe. I try to make plans for either Saturday day or Sunday day around the city too. Keeping busy and making plans will help you feel less alone. Also, try having friends over once a week too! 

make nights alone enjoyable

When I do make plans, I am usually really happy to have my nights alone. Like way happy and perfectly content spending a Friday night in. People can be annoying, and sometimes I just want to go home and get away from them. I don't even think about the fact that I'm by myself when it happens. I try to make those nights (or days) more enjoyable. I light candles, put on a good movie, I get comfy, and cook dinner. You get the point. Because I have the blog, I also like to make sure I have time during the week to get stuff done, and also for cleaning my apartment or doing laundry. Enjoy the alone time. Because one day you'll probably be desperate for these moments.

it's ok to be sad sometimes

I haven't yet had a Bridget Jones' moment of crying into a carton of ice cream or belting "All By Myself" alone in my pjs and messy hair, but if it happens... whatever. You may feel sad sometimes and that's ok, cry it out, do what you gotta do. When I do feel lonely, I call my mom or dad, text a few people, or hit up a friend who is always down to hangout on a whim (these types of friends are good people, have at least one or two). If I don't feel like chatting with people, having a solid binge sesh of The Mindy Project (early seasons), Parks and Rec, or New Girl always make me feel better and laugh.

have a night time routine

I think the evening is definitely the time when feelings of loneliness creep in, so having a routine before bed is a good way to avoid those feelings. I do my skincare routine, maybe read, and get to bed at a decent time. Sometimes I watch my favorite Youtubers at this time, but mostly I watch a least one episode of Bewitched or I Love Lucy every night in bed before I pass out. They both make me very happy and it's something I look forward to. Am I a grandma? Maybe.

Hope these tips help! All in all, I think people in their young adult life who get to live alone are lucky people. Not everyone gets to experience the freedom and responsibility that comes from this situation, and it's definitely one to embrace. Most importantly... you never have to wear pants at home.


Why Collaboration Over Competition is Important

An interesting email from a reader hit my inbox over the weekend and it compelled me to write this post in an effort to inspire and advise you all on why collaborating with other creatives is so important and invaluable. "Collaboration over competition..." an idea that I love and wholeheartedly believe in. In fact, this exact concept is why my love for the creative industry has grown significantly over the years. And it's the reason why I've seen more success than ever in both my blog and freelance work.

Some may think everyone needs a healthy dose of competition, but to be honest, there is no better feeling than teaming up with a badass babe or an inspiring creative on something kickass. To me, competition in this industry can be a lonely concept. If your competing for numbers, constantly comparing yourself to others, or finding yourself judging people while scrolling through your Instagram feed, you're doing things wrong. When you isolate yourself by trying to be the best, especially when you opt to work alone, you're losing out on several amazing opportunities like building relationships, creating a tribe, cultivating ideas and perspectives, developing an effective product, and most importantly, stepping outside your comfort zone and pushing yourself to take risks. 

The thought of collaboration can be scary. You're no longer in the bubble that is me, myself, and I, but rather joining forces with others to develop something and having to share the concept. As hesitant as you may be, it's worth it. If you're new to blogging or you've been blogging for some while, but haven't quite made an effort to connect with others, there's no better time to do so than now.

It's also important to remember that there's enough work to go around. There will always be another project or another idea. I realize seeing others gain amazing work can be intimidating, but when you think about, there are thousands of creatives and bloggers succeeding in this industry - there is room for all of us to make it. Collaborating with others is a great way to network and build your audience, and in turn, usually more work comes out of it. Another reason to collaborate is that you may just not be the best for a certain job! Maybe you need help developing a blog post on a specific topic and need an expert to pipe in and help you build content. Or maybe you want a really cool print product designed for a company or event you've created, but you aren't great at graphic design. Let's be honest, sometimes we can't do it all! Others may help us think of new ways to present things or say things, or they may take our concepts and bring them to life. Working with others can help open the dialogue, improve content, gain expertise, and mutually benefit both of you as you create a successful product through a collaborative process.

A few ways I've collaborated with like-minded creatives over the past couple months...

1. Collaborated on a blog post with other bloggers. In the past, I've worked with bloggers for my own blog or for theirs on guest blog posts, interviews, and more. Collaborating on blog posts is also beneficial because you build relationships with people in your industry, and if you're trying to gain a following, usually you're numbers grow as others discover you through a post. 

2. Met someone I knew from social media/blogging in person. While we all have those social media relationships with creatives we've never met in person, there is something to be said about face to face interaction. I usually make an effort to meet someone every month or two for drinks or coffee in the DC area. It's almost always resulted in building an actual friendship. That's right, a friendship where we talk about real life things and not just about our blogs or work! This may not be dubbed as a collaboration, but what I mean by sharing this is that it usually leads to just that.

3. Worked with a creative that inspired me on a design project. I've had requests for freelance work from a few inspiring ladies who I've followed for years. This has been extremely beneficial to me because I've gained a lot of knowledge in the design process, built my expertise, made real friendships, and have had my work exposed to new audiences. Not to mention, together we created some really cool sh*t. Working with other creatives to develop a product is incredibly beneficial because, simply put, two heads are better than one - especially when both heads are talented and creative and love the same things. It's so fun to see what you can create with others. Say yes to work that inspires and excites you, even if you're doing it for another person, company, or brand. Most of my favorite work and collaborations were things I created for others and not for myself!!! Also, pro tip, collaborations lead to more collaborations.

4. Had discussions with my friends in the industry on my current goals, work, and ideas. When you've built relationships with those in the industry, I can't tell you how effective one-on-one chats can be when it comes to sharing your ideas... or just venting out your frustrations. I often meet with creatives to talk about my own work or potential ideas I have for new work, and I'm always met with bigger, better ideas and feeling more inspired than ever. An honest opinion from someone who knows what you're going through is so so helpful. And sometimes this may even lead to collaborating on the new idea together.

5. Promoted others' work, websites, or social media. Collaboration means building each other up and in this industry we need all the help we can get. When I read a post I love, see a photo that inspires me, or simply want to help promote something another creative needs pushed out, I always try to share it. Do this whenever you can - not because you have to, but because you want to, be genuinely excited to share something. Tag others where the opportunity sits and link back to original sources.

6. Built fun and free content for readers. Collaborating on products for readers is always a good idea. Last year, I worked with Glitter Guide on downloadable content and it was so fun to do! I still get messages and tags from people using backgrounds I designed and it always puts a smile on my face. Keep in mind that not every single project needs to come with a paycheck attached. Collaborating with people or brands on small projects usually makes a big impact as your work gets shared more and more. And once again, this can lead to future work.

There are so many ways to collaborate, the list is endless! Build an online social media community with others, plan a blogger event with a friend in the industry, create a group pinterest board, have someone review your work and provide feedback, feature someone on your blog, pitch ideas to a brand for a design project, etc! Make a goal this year to be supportive, connect, build solid relationships, and always keep in mind "collaboration over competition." You'll not only create work you are passionate and inspired by, but from a business perspective, it's a great way to gain exposure and build your skills! In an era, especially for women, where we are building eachother up, there is no better way to support someone else  or make something beautiful than by working together. Through collaboration you'll gain a network of amazing people and cultivate that creative environment we so often crave.

Let me know how you've collaborated with others in your industry! Why do you think it's important to do so?