A year ago, I made one of the best decisions of my life. I chose to graduate college one semester early in order to give myself some time to think.
If you've ever been in college, you probably think I'm a crazy person. Why the heck would I ever want to leave early? You're probably also wondering why I needed more time to think. Wasn't 18+ years of education enough? Hold on. I didn't quite leave college... and, well, when you go to a school where everyone feels like they need to start a Fortune500 company or solve world peace by the age of 20, you start to find yourself strapped for brain space. After playing a D1 sport, having multiple jobs and internships, running a business, participating in clubs, and trying to enjoy the fun, I got to the end of my first three years and started to question what all this "stuff" really meant to me. On paper, I looked like I was doing okay, but in reality I felt as if I were blindly dropping my next pin along a path to empty success.
While doing some "soul searching," the first person I turned to was (obviously) Ina Garten. In an article about her career, the Barefoot Contessa confessed to feeling like she had reached a plateau after 25 successful years running her food business in the Hamptons. The day-to-day store operations no longer excited her, and she feared that the best years of her career were over. At a loss for what to do next, Ina received the following advice from a friend:
"Type A people think they can figure out what to do next while they're doing something else, and they can't."
After hearing this, Ina decided to take the plunge, sell her store, and rent the office space above it to let herself be. “I spent literally a year doing nothing, and I have to tell you, it was the hardest year of my life. I had to get good and bored.” Clearly, one year of "good and bored" worked wonders for her.
Just like Ina, when I read her friend's advice, everything clicked for me. It was time to turn off the switch for a while and "let myself be." I didn't have a year to burn, but if I added an extra class to my fall schedule, I could give myself a few months off in the spring to let the creative juices flow. I checked my course credit level, signed up for the class, and sent an email to my dean that day. For my final semester, I worked a short internship that allowed me to stay in DC for the spring and live on campus while my friends were finishing up school, but for the most part, I was free. The only thing on my schedule was a little one-on-one seminar that I like to refer to as, THE STATE OF GRACE.
Grading scale? P/F Course work? 50% reflection + 50% projects. Subject matter? Me.
Over the next few months, I set out on a mission to find some answers, but it didn't take me long to figure out that what I craved most was some free rein over my creativity. Having spent a majority of the past four years writing digital copy, building content, and devising social media strategy for other brands and companies, I couldn't shake the feeling that I had always wished I were doing it for myself instead. There are hundreds of thousands of extraordinary creators out there who have turned their wildest dreams into realities via the internet. If they could do it, why not me?
Enter: THE STATE OF GRACE
Crafting travel itineraries, testing recipes, writing, recording videos, planning workouts, experimenting with photography, styling a sparse wardrobe, giving life advice... this is what I've been up to for the past few months, and I can't wait to share it all with you. For the first time in forever, I'm doing what I love and I'm doing it for me.
I decided on THE STATE OF GRACE because if there's one thing that I've learned, it's that life is one giant bundle of tumultuous "states". Humans are constantly evolving--mentally, emotionally, and physically. To remain in one constant state would be near impossible. I hope that you see this site not only as a haven for creativity, but also as an honest source for motivation and inspiration to complement the best of your states and support you through the worst of them.
So here I am... taking a bit of my own advice and diving into this head-first. I can't tell you the number of grand ideas, projects, and job applications I've started but never finished because I didn't think I was good enough to make it. Never let your desire for perfection or approval prevent you from finishing something. Because even if the result isn't everything you hoped for, at least you can learn from it and MOVE ON. To quote one of my favorite filmmakers,
"Someone who starts something and doesn't finish something... that is a loser. Someone who starts something and ALWAYS finishes it... that is a closer."
Today is the day that I officially close the "loser" chapter and open to a fresh new page titled, "closer." Who knows where it will lead me, but here's to giving into a pipe dream and finding out together.
Photos by Kate Dyomina