Monday, May 29, 2017

Everything They Don't Tell You About Life After Graduation: An Ode to College Seniors & Recent Grads

Everything They Don't Tell You About Life After College: An Ode to College Seniors & Recent Grads

I will be the first to admit that I was extremely worried about life post-college.

Mid-second semester senior year (March 2016), I went on a retreat with a group of classmates and it was one of the most revealing and healing things I could have done. At the retreat, we were instructed to write a letter to our future selves, which we would read a year later — a letter I wrote about in a previous blog post.

In the letter I told myself about how badly I hoped to have a full-time job a year later in order to alleviate the anxieties I felt as a then soon-to-be graduate.

Between the personal and peer pressure of everything that was expected of a college grad, I did not think there was another option for me. I thought getting a job immediately, moving into my first apartment, and living the perfect adult life was how it had to be.

The questions from friends and family were always the same: "What are your plans after graduation?" "Do you have a job?" "What will your salary be?"

And while everyone had the same outward appearance of being put together, I couldn't help but wonder if I was the only one feeling the stress. The pressure was a lot and it was not really something anyone discussed. It was an "I got this" attitude mixed with an unspoken internal dialogue that constantly asked "Are you freaking out as much as I am?"

I mean, correct me if I'm wrong friends, but I think I came to find that almost everyone dreaded the uncertainty of graduation day for one reason or another.

So when I got the dream fellowship, relief seeped over me. It was one less thing for me to worry about having to find and one more thing checked off the list of things I was "supposed" to do after college.

Everything They Don't Tell You About Life After College: An Ode to College Seniors & Recent Grads

But here's my question: Who really makes that checklist anyway? You know, that list of things we're supposed to do or the one with the "right" ways to do it?

My answer: Who knows? So unless that checklist will truly and genuinely make you happy, I say give it a toss. Instead of following that list, follow your heart.

Take the time to decide what you want to do, without rushing. Here are the things I wish someone had told me before, during, or shortly after graduation, realizations that have since helped me immensely:

1. Take the time you need.

If there is one thing I would scream at the top of a rooftop it's "take your time." Your dream does not have an expiration date. In fact, there is no rush to figure out what your dream may be — it could change like a million + one times anyway. If you do not know what you want, it is absolutely okay.

2. Settling doesn't always have to be an option.

The only time you should settle is if there is absolutely no other option for you. Otherwise, always make the choice that will make you happiest. Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself before settling for anything.

3. It's ok to carve your own path.

Your priorities may be different than those of others, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. Decide what matters most to you and never stray from those priorities.

4. Keep your friends close, especially those you can't see every week.

When you're not constantly surrounded by your friends on campus, it can be tough to see them unless you actively set aside time to do so. My advice? Do it. Set aside time to see them and stay in touch. Even if you can't see them every week, even a quick text or call can go a long way.

5. You have all the tools you need to succeed, so you will find the path that works for you.

Bottom line: You have absolutely everything you need to succeed in life right at your fingertips. Take the tools and knowledge you have, use them to motivate yourself and follow your dreams, and everything will work out the way it's supposed to.

6. Maintain the connections you make.

Whether it's with your teachers, classmates, people you met during extracurricular activities, fellow interns, bosses, or others, make sure you keep those connections alive. Nurture the relationship as you would a friendship, because what comes around goes around and you never know when you can help one another.

7. The choices you make are not permanent.

It is not the end of the world if you realize any decision you made was not the right one for you. Very few things in life are permanent, so becoming comfortable with and open to change and taking each moment as it comes is vital.

8. It's never too late.

Because nothing is permanent, I also strongly believe it is never too late. For anything. Take that and run with it — and let it be what comforts you whenever you are considering a new path.

9. Don't be afraid to tell people to mind their business.

No, this is not something I literally recommend... I was half kidding. But what I mean by this is that it is not necessarily important to let everyone know every little thing you are doing when they ask (if you don't want to). People will always be nosey and unless you feel comfortable discussing it, simply tell respond to their questions with honest, yet matter-of-fact statements like "I'm loving life" or "I'm figuring it out."

10. Remind yourself it's okay to feel the emotions that the next year or so will bring.

Senior year and the year after graduation will be a mix of emotions and they all are 117% normal. Let yourself be any and all of the emotions that come your way.


If you are a senior or recent grad, what worries/questions (if any) do you have? If you've "been there, done that," what advice do you have for those going through it now?

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

5 Inexpensive & Natural Beauty Products You Have to Try ASAP

The following post contains SHOPSTYLE affiliate links and reviews for products I have received complimentary from Influenster*. More information is located at the bottom of this post.

If I could give myself a title for my beauty habits, it would be something along the lines of "Loyal Product Buyer/User" because I have the tendency to find a product I like and never use another (even long after it probably isn't working for me anymore).

While I will likely be saying "goodbye" to my old products thanks to the new, inexpensive, and natural ones I have recently discovered, I will most certainly be that same "Loyal Product Buyer/User"... just for new brands.

After receiving my first complimentary VoxBox (thank you so much, Influenster!) not long ago, featuring Matrix Biolage R.A.W. Recover Shampoo & Conditioner, I could not help but wonder which other fairly cheap and natural beauty products would work wonders as well.

Here are the 5 products I have since found (aside from the Aveeno moisturizer, which I have been a "Loyal Buyer/User" of for years), which I have absolutely loved and will undoubtedly stay loyal to in the foreseeable future:

1. Matrix Biolage R.A.W. Recover Shampoo*

Before even trying the Biolage R.A.W. (Real, Authentic, Wholesome) Recover Shampoo, I fell in love with its delicious, fresh scent of yucca & goji berry. Of 70% natural origin, with no artificial colorants, silicones, sulfates, or paragons, the shampoo truly surprised me. As someone who has curly hair, I always find it tough to choose shampoo and conditioner that tames the frizz and keeps my hair shiny without having to use a million + one other products after each wash. The Biology R.A.W. Recover Shampoo + Conditioner combination managed to do both.

2. Matrix Biolage R.A.W. Recover Conditioner*

The Biolage R.A.W. Recover Conditioner had the same effect. When combined with the shampoo, I could not get enough. Even after just a few washes I have seen an incredible difference in my hair — less frizz, more shine... something I can definitely get used to. Additionally, one thing I absolutely hate when it comes to using heat on my hair is that often times the heat kills the scent of the wash. Thankfully, the smell of this shampoo + conditioner combo lasted not only after using a blowdryer and flatiron, but also after several days.

3. St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub

I tend to have softer skin, but never has my skin ever felt this smooth or looked so clear. The 100% natural exfoliants in the St. Ives Apricot Scrub scrape away the dirt and dead skin, leaving my skin soft as can be. Plus, it smells heavenly.

4. St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub

Within just one use of the St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub I was able to see a difference. My nose is typically where I see blackheads on my face, so I scrubbed the green tea solution over my nose (as applying to the whole face would likely dry it out), then rinsed away the problem spots. Literally. With just one quick scrub and rinse, I could see a huge difference. AND, like the apricot scrub, it has 100% natural exfoliants.

5. Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer

While the first four products listed here are recent discoveries, the Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer has long been an absolute must for my skin. After every wash in the morning and before bed each night, I apply the cream to my entire face and neck and it leaves me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. If there is one product I could not live without, it's this one for sure.

Interested in shopping any of these products? Click the links above or scroll through the shop widget below:


As previously stated, this post contains affiliate links. While I may be compensated for any purchases made through this post, I only publish and/or endorse pieces I truly believe in and love, which is why I am thrilled to be able to share these natural beauty products with you. For more information about Sponsors, please visit the The Sprinkle Blog's Disclaimer page.

What natural beauty products do you recommend? Do you have any DIY natural beauty techniques and/or remedies I should try? Comment below with some of your favs!

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Setting Priorities and Being Open to Change

Here's the thing: no matter how "according to plan" some people's lives may seem to be going, they too had or will have to be open to change somewhere along the way (even if only for a minute).

I recently received a letter I wrote to myself at a Senior Retreat about a year ago. We were told to write to ourselves a piece outlining anything we would want to say to our future selves, which would be sent a year later.

Here is part of what I wrote in my letter:

"Hopefully, if you are reading this a year from now, you have sort of figured it out... When I consider my future, my dream is to live in New York City and be writing for a magazine (print or digital). Though this is my dream now, I know the places I go will not necessarily lead me directly there. Or, who knows, maybe I will find a different destination. But no matter where life leads me, I know I will end up where I am supposed to be."

Ah, "But no matter where life leads me, I know I will end up where I am supposed to be." My favorite line. Because it's true, I wrote down a dream that made sense to me at the time (one that has slightly changed), but I still definitely don't have it all figured out.

There are many things people do not tell you before you leave college. What they do tell you is that the priorities we are "supposed" to set and dreams we are "supposed" to chase all involve the same plan or path: graduate from high school, go to the best college possible, and get hired right after graduation.

This plan, however, is problematic. Not because it isn't a great plan to follow — I personally loved my years in school and am so grateful for every moment — but because it is not what everyone wants and for those who do want it, they are rushed to put a time frame on it.

As some of you may know, immediately after graduation I had the privilege of moving to New York City to pursue an editorial job on a dream team from which I learned more than I ever thought possible.

But after a year, the end of my fellowship came and I decided I wanted to take the summer off to relax and do some freelancing before jumping in to my next adventure.

In a previous post, I mentioned how I had made the decision to move out of NYC and back home to Connecticut to begin this new chapter of my life and, while I am excited to be taking this next step for myself, I can't help but feel a mix of emotions — very similar to the ones I felt while writing that letter to myself a little over a year ago.

Somewhere in the middle of my excitement to have my first "summer vacation" since high school and my hesitation to redirect my life, I have realized that I am ready for change. For the first time ever, I am accepting that I'm only in control of certain parts of my life and the things I am in control of are the ones I will prioritize.

For this reason, here are the priorities I will focus on... always.

1. Health
"Health is not just about what you're eating. It's also about what you're thinking and saying."

2. Relationships
"I've learned... that it's not what I have in my life, but who I have in my life that counts."

3. Writing
"No one can tell your story, so tell it yourself. No one can write your story, so write it yourself."

4. Hobbies
"Find three hobbies you love: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative."

5. Career
"Passion is the difference between having a job and having a career."


Here's my question for you: have you recently made a change that you've had to be open to? What was the hardest part about it?

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Monday, May 1, 2017

The Ultimate New York City Bucket List: 26 Spring & Summer Activities in the Big Apple

I officially have just about a month left in New York City before I move back home to Connecticut, but you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be back and forth quite a bit for some of my favorite spring and summer pastimes.

In fact, aside from Christmastime, the warm months are the absolute best time to be out and about in New York as there is always something to do (both inside and outside) and the city is buzzing with excitement.

For that reason, I've compiled your ultimate NYC bucket list of places to go and activities to enjoy, some I have already done (and have to do again) and many that I hope to do, to make your upcoming city visits special.

Don't have a trip planned? Well, for what are you waiting?

☐ Visit the New York Botanical Gardens

☐ Ride bikes through Central Park
☐ Rent a paddleboat at Loeb Boathouse in Central Park
☐ Buy tickets to see a New York Yankees or Mets game (Yankees are better)
☐ Sip on a Loopy Pop cocktail at the Conrad Hotel's Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar
☐ Eat all you can at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn
☐ Walk the High Line
☐ Cross the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn and back (or vice versa)
☐ Go bar hopping in each of the five boroughs
☐ Shop 'til you drop at the Brooklyn Flea Market
☐ Rush a Broadway show
☐ Take a ferry to Governor's Island
☐ Picnic in Central Park (or Prospect Park, or any of the parks)
☐ Visit the Bronx, Central Park, or Prospect Park Zoo
☐ Spend the day at Coney Island
☐ Enjoy a dinner cruise out of Chelsea Piers
☐ Get moving at an outdoor fitness class
☐ Experience the joy of Wowfulls
☐ Mini-golf at the pier
Rollerblade in Central Park

Go kayaking in the Hudson River

Watch a movie outdoors
Spend the day at Rockaway Beach

Buy your produce at a local farmers market
Ride in a hot air balloon
Take in the scenery at The Met Cloisters


Have other suggestions? Comment below with your favorite warm-weather activity to do in NYC.

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