Versatility: Mint Ombre Top + Vintage Crossbody Bag

Carnegie Mellon University
college style, brown crossbody bag
college style, brown crossbody bag
carnegie mellon university
college style, brown crossbody bag
mint statement necklace
carnegie mellon university
Cardigan, thrifted | T-shirt, Kohl's | Shorts, China | Bag, Poshmark | Keds, eBay | Necklace, Walmart

"Are you scared?" My supervisor asked as we chatted about my study abroad plans.

"A little," I admitted, "It's going to be a big trip."

"Yeah, I keep thinking with everything happening in the news: 'it's gotta be safe--Lily's going over there!'"

I quickly realized that "scared" meant different things for both of us. My scared was anticipation and anxiety of adjusting to an entirely different lifestyle. Her scared was fear for my life. 

With headline after headline of attacks in Europe--from Nice to Munich to a fortunately foiled one in Brussels--it is absolutely scary to think that anything could happen at anytime, anywhere. For me, it's especially scary to be headed to a major French city when terrorists have already targeted two of France's best-known destinations. 

There's a fine line, however, between living cautiously and living so cautiously that you fail to live. Regardless of where I am, I'll do my best to be safe, and the rest is really out of my control. Regardless of whichever type of fear, I'll still strive to live fully. And regardless of what happens, I want this mindset to persist. 

Most of all, I want so badly for us to recognize each other as fellow humans. Maybe then, neither type of fear would have to exist. 

*                                                                            *                                                                         *

As the sun begins to set on summer, I've realized how much gloom and doom I've been spewing about my impending year abroad. The first 1.5 months of break was one of the most emotional and melancholy times in my life: I didn't want to bid my upperclassmen friends an indefinite goodbye, I didn't want to let go of my then-boyfriend, I didn't want to leave the school where I had found home. Furthermore, I was unnerved by the constraints of home life and its lack of social accessibility. 

A few weeks ago, something changed, and I wish I could tell you what that was. Maybe it was reconnecting with my old high school friends, realizing that we could lead totally separate lives for a spell, but still find resonance, as if we had never left. Maybe it was being visited by and visiting a college classmate, realizing that indefinite goodbyes don't have to mean farewell forever. Maybe it was letting go of the relationships that no longer brought joy to my life, realizing that souls and circumstances change, but that little could tarnish the warmth that we did share. Maybe it was realizing that people are flighty, but God is always there. Maybe it was realizing that home is not a place but a time and space, one that I cultivate wherever I go. 

With less than one month to go, yes, I feel scared--it's terrifying how a single decision can drastically shape your life. When my family found itself touring Carnegie Mellon University for my brother this weekend, I remembered how difficult it was to choose a college, and then how tough it was to move on from the life I knew.

Here I am again at another crossroads. But this time, I'm better-equipped with strength and insight. Ahead, my life will be drastically different, and that's okay. I finally feel at peace. 

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Zaful Review: Tan Chiffon Shorts + Maroon Scalloped Bikini

summer flatlay
In exchange for an honest review, I received these tan chiffon shorts and this maroon scalloped bikini from Zaful, an online retailer. All opinions are my own.

Before shooting these photos, I pranced over to the kitchen to grab the pineapple my family had bought during our last grocery shopping trip--I wanted to be cheeky and match the real thing to the print on my shirt. Unfortunately, my dad had just sliced and refrigerated the fruit the night before, so that meant no pineapple for these review photos. Moral of the story: sometimes things don't turn out as you hope or expect, and this lesson applies just as well to my experience with Zaful.

When I first received Zaful's collaboration inquiry, I immediately began scouring their site for versatile pieces--I always try to select clothing that I would buy myself and could see myself wearing often. The website was navigable and crisp, so there was no trouble there. I especially liked how some listings had model stats, like this dress, so you could measure potential fit beyond numbers.

But about that dress--this is where my pineapple lesson applies first. I originally selected the shorts, the bikini, and the dress, but I instead received the shorts and two sets of the bikini. Though I didn't place my order through the site--I did it by email with the outreach coordinator--I was nonetheless disappointed to receive the wrong items when I had clearly listed three separate pieces. Since this was a collaboration and not a normal purchase, I assume (and hope) that the site would be more deliberate in making amends. Their wrong product policy promises to provide a solution as long as there is proper documentation. As for me, I received an apology and the promise of receiving the dress in a future collaboration (though to be completely honest, most companies don't want to continue collaborating after my candid reviews, and that's totally okay). 

On a brighter note, the shipping was speedy for an Asian retailer, clocking in at just five days through DHL. If an order totals over $30, shipping is free.
zaful review tan shorts
zaful review tan shorts
If I had to pick a favorite between the two items, I'd say that these shorts win. Here's the breakdown:

Appearance: 4/5
I liked versatile tan/beige tone of the shorts, as well as the fun bow sash. The frilly waistband, however, mystified me--it looked so much better in the website photos (pineapple lesson part two). So, I instead opted to tuck the extra material in, making for a much more streamlined look.

Sizing: 5/5
After taking a gander at the size chart, I ordered a size small, and the fit was just right. While many Asian retailers run small, fit wasn't a problem here. Pay close attention to the charts, reviews, and model stats (if available), and you should be good.

Quality: 5/5
I also had few comments here--the shorts were double-layered so I felt comfortable wearing them as is (I usually wear spandex under flowy shorts), and still light enough to suit summer. Stitching was also careful and strong, which is important for chiffon material.

Value: 3.5/5
When I first stumbled upon these shorts, they were listed around $15. Now, they're $20.49. Had these stayed on sale, these would've been a solid 4.5/5. Because I happen to be one of the most frugal people you'll meet and because of the funky waistband, I'd say value is this piece's greatest deficiency.

Street Style Roundup + Reflections on Seemingly-Frivolous Pursuits

All photos from my street style blog, Posh Pedestrian (Facebook and Tumblr)

Earlier last week, my parents and I had a passionate debate about the merits of seemingly-frivolous pursuits. 

I dreamt of longer endurance races, solo roadtrips, and extended time abroad. They just wanted me to prepare for next summer's internship search, seriously contemplate life after graduation, and figure my life out. They were afraid that I'd invest all my energy into training and traveling, forgetting the reality of becoming an independent adult. 

I understood and sympathized, but I firmly believe that I can continue to balance my quest for self-growth in more spheres than just the practical. Perhaps I'm blinded by my upbringing in a financially-stable household, but I believe that there's a whole lot more to life than making a living. 

Futhermore, my seemingly-frivolous endeavors have shaped me immensely. As a sports-skeptic turned avid endurance athlete, I've learned that we are capable of much more than we imagine. From injuries, I've learned that unfortunate occurences don't have to stay that way--they can be blessings in disguise. They can push you to address your weaknesses and become even stronger. Running has empowered me in all spheres of my life, and that is so much more valuable to me than a stale resume-boosting experience.

As for my street-style blog? Well, if I didn't have my street style blog, I may not be studying abroad at Oxford next spring. Because of my penchant for capturing stylish passersby, I met an upperclassman from whom I was able to garner study abroad insight. Celine, the lovely human in the crisp white button-down and navy peacoat, had studied abroad for a year in Paris and Oxford. I was absolutely lost on what to do last winter (where to apply and how long to go), so we emailed back and forth over break. 

She told me to ask myself, "What is the most singular experience I can have only at this stage of my life?" I'd originally planned to apply to schools in Australia and New Zealand in the spring, but I realized that I could always enjoy the cultural highlights of those destinations later. I wouldn't, however, always be able to study at the University of Oxford (my freshman year dream).

And the rest is history. My passions, however unrelated to paving a career, have nonetheless influenced my life in just as valuable ways. So, as I seek balance, I will keep on chasing them.


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Artsy Endeavors + Life Updates: Dear Future Me...

dave staley triathlon
At the Dave Staley Triathlon--cheesin it up with my old high school running buddy
purple flowers
Gonna make myself poor from buying flowers...good thing these were only $2
midwestern wind turbines
Let's hit the road
moccasins
"I've been given this one world--I won't worry it away" --Sara Bareilles, Many the Miles
fox in the snow cafe
Before you even think of eating your food at a cafe, take a million photos of everything, including the plants.
fox int he snow cafe
Food food food
rain and bokeh
Rain liberates--cheers to the most exhilarating of biking workouts in this torrential downpour
whole foods lunch
Nothing like a Whole Foods lunch--quinoa, vegan chicken, and sprouts
chicago pier
"Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes" --The Count of Monte Cristo film
ivy
You know you may have a slight problem when you stop the car, hop out just to take photos of ivy, and then keep driving where you were supposed to go...
smoothie in mason jar
When you make a non poop-colored smoothie, the world must see

Written originally in late June as an exercise from Shannon Kaiser's Adventures for Your Soul

Dear future me,

I see you laughing--not politely chuckling or tentatively giggling, but laughing freely. It's the kind of laugh that leaves you breathless, the kind that simultaneously empties and fills your soul.

It's the kind you know well from nights with your dorm family--from roaring over Cards Against Humanity, from being carried across campus piggyback-style, from dashing around the ping-pong table during seven-person matches.

It's the kind you captured briefly during a triathlon training session, where the your bike pedal flew off after a grueling trek through wheel-deep water on the flooded path. You were covered in mud, your clothes were drenched, your bike had just fallen apart, and you were the happiest you'd been in a long, long time. You were happy because nothing else mattered at that moment--nothing else but the thrill of unexpected adventure, nothing else but the good company of an old friend, nothing else but your embrace of whatever wackiness the world wielded.

I know you can feel that pervasive joy again. The joy that makes life more vibrant, the joy that fills those precious moments with inexplicable peace. That lingers in the air like the morning mist. That draws you to the present.

I see you laughing like that again, and I see you living--actively, unconventionally, exuberantly. I see you springing out of bed each morning to work that makes your heart soar. I see you pushing your notions of possible with endurance training. I see you taking good care of yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I see you surrounded with love and cleansed of insecurities. I see you maximizing your potential. I see you always remaining hungry--in more ways than one, of course, but my greatest hope is that your most ravenous desire is hunger to grow.

I see you, and I can't wait to meet you. Now may be tumultuous and disorienting, but these challenges will build you.

I will follow my heart, and I will find you.

Lots of love,
Your always imperfect idealist

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