An Open Letter to My Former Self

Hey Allie, or should I dare say “Alyssa,”

Let’s get something straight. Who you used to be in your teens and who you are now are two completely separate people, let me tell you. Everything that you have ever wanted was practically handed to you and I don’t want you taking that for granted. You worked your ass off, and therefore everything fell into place.

I want to give you a few examples on how cool your older self is now:

1. You graduate college in a semester. Can you believe it? 

There is going to be a day when you go to the beach with your real dad, his wife and your sisters. You’re going to tell him that you want to go to college and he is going to laugh in your face and ask how you expect to pay for it. You’ll tell him that you’ll find a way and he tells you good luck because, “I had to pay for everything on my own, so don’t think I’m going to help you.” Turns out, he never went to college. Think of it as taking a few AP classes, which you did. That’s about the extent of his higher education. You’re gonna cry about it when you get home and think that there is no college orientation in your future.

But guess what? You’re going to get accepted into the Accelerated Collegiate Experience (ACE) Program at Florida Gulf Coast University. You’re going to have all four years of your college paid for, plus housing, plus books, plus extra. You’re going to get your first “C” in a class and you’re going to think it’s all over. But C’s get degrees, so stop worrying so much.

2. You were the section editor for your college paper. 

Yes, of course it was entertainment and lifestyle, don’t worry. I wouldn’t have you writing the police beat every week. Things started off slow, you were a contributing writer (like all great editors start as). Then, you wrote every week – sometimes even twice a week – and that earned you the title of staff writer. You took this to heart and did the best you could, giving you the opportunity to cover Eaglepalooza your freshman year.

After this, you took on the assistant editor position for E&L, worked yourself to death every Tuesday night and did the same thing again the next year as E&L editor. Things were really rocky in the transition from your assistant year to your editor year because of the staff, but you welcomed in the new year with open arms.

Things ended up not turning out so great during the spring semester and, well, the Bears are who we thought they were (you’ll get that reference later in life). So, you quit. Not to worry though, you quit with dignity and your head held high, even when everyone around you was losing theirs.

Besides, you’re the newest editorial intern for Gulfshore Life magazine, so things can’t be all that bad, right?

3. You found a boyfriend. But, like, this one you’ve been with for almost four years. 

Makes that first relationship look like a blip on the radar of life now, huh?

He, Jacob, is everything you could have possibly wanted and more. He really listens when you have a problem, he jokes around with you when you’re feeling shitty. He spent so much money on you in the beginning because all he wanted was to play videogames with you, and that’s pretty damn special.

You met him online. I know it sounds weird but it was the best decision you’ve ever made. Things are going to get very hard Jan. 8, 2014. You haven’t told mom about him yet and she’s going to find out. You’re going to feel like your life is over. You’re going to stupidly run away for less than eight hours and then you’re gonna be right back home. You’re going to have to embarrassingly apologize to his parents over the phone and hope that they don’t think you’re absolutely crazy.  You’re only going to be able to talk to him by email every few days and that’s going to be hard. He said he’d wait, but you didn’t believe him. Nevertheless, he did.

You meet him for the first time, in person Dec. 14, 2014. The day before you had lunch with your mom on the beach and talked about all your hopes and fears that the 10-day-long vacation would bring. You can’t stop smiling when you see him waiting for you by your gate. You cry, a lot, and he gives you an awkward hug because that’s just who he is then. The week is perfect, and there are many more vacations to come. Each time, however, they feel shorter and shorter. You spend one of those Spring Break weeks at his apartment. Surprise, you lose your V-Card. See? You won’t be a 40-year-old virgin cat lady, I promise.

You still have a really hard time letting people in, and unfortunately it has taken you up to the summer of 2017 to finally let all your walls down and stop defending yourself from him. You’ve gotten into a few near-relationship-ending fights, but that’s because you don’t trust him completely. So please, from the bottom of my now twenty-something heart, be more open with those that love you. I know you’ve been hurt before but it’s doing you more harm than good. Let them in. You’ll be glad you did.

4. You’re moving to Tennessee in December.

The first time you lay eyes on this state, you’re going to fall in love and never want to come back home. And I promise, every night before you have to fly back, you are going to cry to no end, without fail.

Of course, maybe 10 percent of the appeal is because Jacob lives there. However, you’re going to spend a day in the mountains near Gatlinburg during a week trip there. Cades Cove, specifically. You’re going to find this little shoulder on the road to stop at and walk into the field. All you can see around you is trees and mountains. And, you being you, are going to plop right down in the middle of it all and just be. In this moment, you know you are meant to stay here. Something is calling you and you can’t say no.

This, again, is one of the last days you are in Knoxville and, upsettingly enough, once you experience a feeling like this nothing can compare to it. You’re gonna go home really sad and upset and angsty. But hang tight, because December 2017 is going to come faster than you know it and you’re going to wish you spent more time appreciating those around you in that moment than wishing you were gone.

Find time for your Florida friends and family –– Tennessee will still be there.

5. Your body has changed a lot.

You know, you used to be able to fit into a size nine skinny jean. You’re probably a size 12 now at American Eagle, size 14 if you want to wear high-waisted stuff. But honestly, high-waisted stuff makes you feel like a stuffed sausage, so I wouldn’t even bother. You’re going to start realizing that working on your feet eight hours a day is going to make you feel like a cripple in the morning. You’re going to have to wear sole inserts for your shoes because you have plantar fasciitis. Sounds like a disease, but it just means that your feet suck at being feet, essentially.

You’re going to want to lose weight, so you hit up a spin class at the Rec Center and have to sit out for all of it because you almost pass out 15 minutes in. You are going to get discouraged, you’re going to feel useless and I know you’re going to look into the mirror and hate your curves and dimples and rolls.

Then, you’re going to find yoga and all of that will change. Because here’s a secret: thick girls and skinny girls can do yoga. Hell, anyone can do yoga. And yoga can get intense. It’s the perfect balance of heat and relaxation that you need. Throw in some cardio here and there and I promise you’ll feel a lot better. Some things take time, and learning to love your body and make the right changes is one of those things.

So, Alyssa, among all these great things that happen in your life, there are going to be lots of trials. There will be a lot of nights trying to understand what you did wrong or how you got to where you are. All of that is necessary. There is a song that one of your favorite rappers, Logic, just put out. The title is 1-800-273-2588. It’s the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. This song is going to get you through so much and make you realize how precious life is. Everything this song conveys you have felt at one point. There is a line that sticks out the most; “What’s a day without a little night?” And it’s true, you can’t have highs without some lows.

For now, you’re adulting just fine. I’ll check in some five to 10 years later and see what advice you have then.

Yours truly,

Allie

Taking a Sick Day and Dropping a Class (Life Update)

Hey kids, here’s a pro tip:

Don’t get sick on the first day of your new internship.

Saturday night, my sister came home after a while of not being home. Maybe a week and a half or so. I have since taken refuge in her room because I moved away from campus housing. To clarify, it was completely and 100 percent not my choice to take over her room. However, Saturday night she comes home, realizes that my other sister is using the guest cot and decides to camp out on my floor. Little did she tell anyone that she was extremely sick.

Guess who ended up getting said “sick?”

I was in a contaminated room with her for probably close to ten hours or so, because I had to get up for work the next day (Sunday). So, I’m at work and everything is fine. Even yesterday, everything was fine. Then at about 7 or 8 p.m, I start feeling a tickle in my throat. You know the lump that all of a sudden springs up on you and you’re left wondering, “Where did that come from?” I figured it was nothing more than a little sore throat that would be gone in a few hours and went about my business. I knew I had to be up early to get to Naples by nine, so I started winding down for bed and talked to my boyfriend a bit. The throat got worse, and at about 10 p.m. I felt like the flames of Satan himself were inside my esophagus. I was absolutely writhing in pain by 11 p.m, and at midnight I knew that I was down for the count.

I got up at about 4 a.m. and walked into the bathroom, praying to God that this would go away by 7 a.m. when I had to actually be up for work. My nose was stuffed, I was breathing out of my mouth (which only hurt my throat more) and I hastily began gargling as much hot water as I could.

I don’t know why I thought that would work. Maybe burn the bacteria out?

I don’t know.

I wake up again at 6 a.m. and it felt like the world was coming to an end. My eyes were slightly swollen, my throat felt like I was swallowing glass. Every bone in my body hurt. I did the only thing I thought to do at the time.

I called in sick on my first day.

And not only that, but I called out for the only two days this week I was supposed to work because I didn’t know when I was going to feel better.

From what you can tell, this was not a Mean Girls’ “I can’t go out, I’m sick.”

This was full blown WWIII happening inside my body.

I’m finally okay enough to lie back and write out this post because one of my only three options is to write, play Crafting Mama on my DSi or watch Pewdiepie on YouTube. Or sleep, but I don’t feel like going unconscious for the time that I could be writing.

Also, because I wanted to share about how I dropped my very first class in my nearly four-and-a-half years of college.

I was in the process of getting myself set up for a little course called Computer Softwear and Technology (GCS 1100). Everyone that I have talked to about this class said that it was one of the easiest courses they have taken, especially because it’s as simple as getting a certification in Microsoft PowerPoint. I’m already pretty good with technology, so I was ready to finish this class in like two weeks max.

When I started logging into the course, I realized that I missed a little introduction post. I did that, then logged into the website that we were going to use for the class called Cengage. After logging in, I realized that the access code for the course –– ACCESS CODE, not even a textbook –– was going to cost $194.75. 

To your right, you will see an example of the absolute petrification I exhibited when realizing not only did I not have enough money to even begin to cover that, but also that I missed an ENTIRE WEEK of random assignments I had no idea were due.

Cue “Surprised Patrick” meme.

I let out a slightly-less-than-dignified, “F–k this” and promptly dropped myself from the course. Granted, after checking the academic calendar, I found out that yesterday was the final day to withdrawal from a course. Great timing.

On any note, after the last 24 hours, all I truly want to do is eat a good amount of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and maybe have a good cathartic cry.

Yours truly,

Allie

Meet the Beautifully Brilliant Mind Behind “Seven Swim,” Hannah Marjon


I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Hannah Marjon, 20, as she shared the challenges and experience of becoming her own boss with her swimwear line “Seven Swim.” Here is Hannah’s story:

Allie: When did you first have the idea that you wanted to own your own business? And more specifically, when did you know you wanted to make swimwear?

Hannah: I have wanted to start my own business for a long time now. I would always start businesses, like dog day cares and things like that, when I was younger. I started seriously playing with the idea of starting my own business around a year and a half ago. I have always known that I wanted an unconventional job; I just didn’t know what format that job would be in. Being my own boss seemed like a good start. The idea for swimwear came when I was reading an interview with Moana Bikini owner, Karina Irby. In the interview, she talked about when she decided to never work for someone other than herself ever again. I love fashion and growing up on the beach every weekend has given me a solid respect for the perfect bikini. I’m going to have other jobs in my life, and I’m a public relations major and I do want to pursue that still, but owning my own business was something I always wanted to do so I figured, why not do it now?

 A: Where did the name Seven Swim come from? Does it have any significance to your life or to the company?

H: Once I had the concept to create my own swimwear line, I went through a few hundred possible name choices. Nothing stuck. I came up with some amazingly awful names. Seven is a word my boyfriend and I use. I can’t really explain how it started or exactly what it means to us because it represents a concept between us. However, I started saying “Seven Swim” to myself, and I sounded kind of nice. It stuck, and I kept it.

 A: Can you tell me the process of making one of your swimsuits? From start to finish, how is it created? What materials do you use? How are they manufactured?

H: The night I decided to do this, for real, I sketched my designs. I decided to start with seven pieces because 3 tops 3 bottoms and a one piece seemed like a nice first collection. I hadn’t even decided to name it Seven at this point. I had never sketched a swimsuit before. I looked up what swimwear sketches should look like; what measurements to include, what figures to draw them on, everything. There would be a million and one different types of swimsuits I would create if I could, so for the first seven I had to boil them down to super minimalistic designs that would be the starting point for my line. I wanted these to be pieces that would go with pieces girls already had in case they didn’t want to be a full set or wanted to mix it up.

Next came finding a manufacturer. I can’t sew to save my life so finding someone who could was imperative. I knew most of the bikinis I ordered were manufactured in Thailand so I started there. I don’t know if a lot of these places don’t have websites or what but I could only find like 2 manufacturers in Thailand. I ended up widening my search to any country. I emailed about fifty manufacturers in the next two days. After about a week, I found my lovely manufacturers in Brazil. They use eco-friendly / bio degradable nylon.

Getting my first patterns and samples made was one of the more painful experiences I have ever been through. My manufacturer had to think I was crazy. They would send me a picture of a sample they had made, and I would send about fifteen completely disorganized emails back with notes.

Finally, we somehow got the patterns done so they sent me the samples. I cried out of happiness when I received them, and shot off another 20 emails with notes on things that needed tweaking on the samples. I placed my first order once they had redone the samples about 15 times.

The only time I have ever missed class in my college career was the week I was waiting for my 300 pieces of swimwear to arrive at my apartment from Brazil. Customs is the worst thing that has ever happened to this planet. I cried and cried and cried when they called me to say I needed to send more forms and more this and that to get the pieces through customs.

When they arrived, I literally just hugged the boxes which were disgusting after what they had been through. I almost hugged the courier.

A: Where did your idea for the styles of your swimwear come from? Are all of the designs original or was there someone helping in the design process?

H: All of the designs are original in the sense that I start to finish designed them, but they are obviously influenced by the big swimwear trends right now. The cheeky bottom, one piece, triangle top; they’re all super popular right now and I wanted to reflect that in my designs.

A: What were some of the challenges of starting your business? Were there any people that thought you wouldn’t be able to do it as a college student?

H: There are challenges literally every day. I work on Seven like it’s my full-time job. For some reason I kept thinking it was going to get easier or less hectic once I had received the suits from the manufacturer, but that was wrong. I have never emailed, been on social media, or had so many phone calls in my entire life put together as I have in the last 10 months.

I’m sure a lot of people still think I can’t do this as a college student, but whatever, I’m doing it.

A: What were the proudest moments you’ve had with the business so far?

H: When people post in my suits!! I get so so excited every time someone who has bought a suit posts in it. That’s when I’m like, “Okay, this is all going to work out.”

 A: Can you tell readers anything exciting that you are working on? Any future projects or promotions that you are looking forward to?

I just placed an order for a restock of the items I have sold out of and in new colors! I’m so excited to start getting some color in the collection. I also have already started sketching my next collection even though that won’t come out for about a year. It’s going to be super bomb though.

A: Any final thoughts?

H: I am so excited to see what the future of the brand will be because I feel like it’s changing every day. It’s my child.

Follow “Seven Swim” on Instagram and Facebook, or visit Hannah’s site Seven Swim to browse the “Fire Collection.” Pieces start at $40. Subscribe to the “Seven Swim” newsletter to find out when new products are in stock. Apply to be a Seven Babe online for discounts and ambassador perks.

How I Accidentally Got A Victoria’s Secret Pink Angel Card

I’m about to talk about something that I usually would never dare speak of.

Credit cards.

Here is the story of how I “accidentally” applied for – and got – a Victoria’s Secret Pink Angel Card:

The night that I applied for the glittering pink debt collector, I was sitting on the floor of my living room with my roommates talking about how I had just about maxed out my one and only credit card.

Nothing could have prepared me for the financial strain of living on my own with only a part time job to satiate my already expensive lifestyle. I was eating out quite often, buying unnecessary dollar items at Target (cursed be the Dollar Spot) and going out more that I probably should have been.

However, when my roommate Karla had mentioned that she hadn’t been able to successfully apply for the VS Angel Card, curiosity got the best of me. I logged onto the site, filled out some information about my address, income, social security number, yada yada yada.

Then, BAM.

“YOU’RE APPROVED!” In big pink letters, my fate was sealed. Like an unsuspecting boyfriend, I was now the parent of a newly born VS credit card. Somebody call Maury.

I didn’t think that it would happen that fast. One minute I’m seeing if I’m even I’m even eligible and the next it’s being shipped to my mailbox.

When I finally got my card about a week-and-a-half or so later, I opened the (again, pink) envelope to find my sparkly (PINK) credit card, with little Pink Dogs patterning the surface and the words “PINK ANGEL” across the front. On the back, my name was  embossed in black letters, finalizing the reality of the situation.

With the card, I was also given a $15 coupon off of my first purchase with my card and a “little book of goodies” that gives me coupons for various free things (with a purchase using the card, of course).

This month, I get a free Pink panty. However, I can’t combine that with the $15 off coupon, so that’s a shame.

Currently, I have $0.00 on my card and $0.00 of accumulated interest. I’m hoping to keep it that way until I have my greater financial situation figured out. But I’m in need of new bras, so we’ll see how long that lasts.

If you are interested in getting this card, or if you have been asked by one of the many VS and Pink workers about applying for one and “saving ‘x amount’ on your purchase today,” I would definitely look into the fine details.

It may look glamorous to get discounts and coupons every month in the mail. It probably also sounds good to save money on your purchase that day. However, credit lasts forever. Starting bad credit early can impact buying a car, a house, even trying to get student loans or a phone plan.

Take it from me, because I’m a professional after a year of adulting, right?

Yours truly,

Allie

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again…

Hey there.

So, I’m going to admit that these last few months have not been the strongest as far as content goes. Heck, they haven’t had ANY content except for my sorry excuse for a Travel Diary (which if you haven’t read it, you should). I think it’s time to change that.

It is finally summer – the time for accidentally falling asleep on the beach, wasting half the days watching Netflix and excessive amounts of sunscreen. Or, lack thereof if you’re like me and forget to put it on.

However, summer for me means that 86% of my daily routine will consist of making my blog as pretty and interesting as possible. The other 14% is reserved strictly for eating and sleeping. And, you know, maybe working.

I’m also thinking about rebranding a lot of my current social media and such. As we speak (or as you read) I just changed my Instagram. Go follow me @ journalistonajourney! Honestly, this is a really short post, just something to get the word out and make you, my readers, a promise that there are good things ahead! Some things that you can be on the look out for are reviews, rants and raves, exclusive interviews and a whole lot of the things you want to read.

So, there you have it. The much-needed “I’m back” post that I’m sure was very overdue. I’m back, and the best is yet to come.

Yours truly,

Allie