The Monthly Challenge: A New Year's Resolution Alternative

Sweatshirt, Love Nail Tree ($50)

What does my newly-cropped hair have to do with new year's resolutions?

Quite a bit, actually.

Last December, I promised myself four things for 2014. I said I would:
  1. go to whichever college with a smile and my intense drive, regardless of whether it was where I had originally hoped
  2. finish high school with nothing below an A-
  3. complete an official half marathon in under two hours
  4. chop my hair off and donate it after graduation (length and charity TBD)
I checked off #2 and #3 before June, and think I did a decent job of #1. I hardly regret going to Amherst--I'm grateful that I chose liberal arts.

Number 4, however, was a real struggle.

Halfway through the year, I even dedicated a post to a progress check of my goals, where I attempted to justify my lack of attention to my fourth promise. I decided that my wording allowed a loophole--"after graduation" could mean one day, one week, one month, years. I even decided that donating blood to the Red Cross was an acceptable substitute for donating my hair to Locks of Love.

I failed to address the real issue:

I was scared.

Scared of looking like a man, scared of letting go of my hair, scared of being stereotyped. Scared of change. 

I'm not scared anymore. 

After my first semester of college, I was tired--tired of feeling inadequate, but doing nothing about it. Ir's one thing to daydream about improving, branching out. It's another thing to actually do it. 

Then, I stumbled upon my old diaries, where I realized that I had debated getting a pixie for 3.5 years.

It was beyond time. 

So, as of December 30th, I have officially completed my original 2014 goals. 

I'm not expecting a haircut to change my life. I am hoping, however, that tackling the uncomfortable, the scary, will become a habit of mine.

Enter the monthly challenge, inspired by my running buddy.

Last year, in lieu of creating new year's resolutions, she dedicated herself to achieving a new goal each month. For example, she gave up social media with me when I went on my fast for Lent, and then I joined her in going vegan for a couple weeks in July.

This year, I plan to follow suit, because that way, I can't put things off for the entire year--I only have one month. While one month doesn't lend itself to anything grandiose, like running a marathon, it does encourage small change over time more effectively than a yearly resolution does. And who says I can't throw in a couple larger goals on the side?

I don't have the entire year mapped out because my plans will inevitably change, but here's what I will strive to accomplish the first few months:

January: spend 20 minutes a day on internship and scholarship applications
February: memorize my violin piece, Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1, first movement
March: blog once a week
April: meet someone new every day
Other ideas: give up social media again, go vegan for an entire month, go to bed every day by 11:30pm, ask for something I don't think I'll get every day, try a new activity like debate or community engagement

Here's to conquering the intimidating and always striving to maximize our potential.

As for fashion, I found this sweatshirt appropriate for this post because "bon courage" is French for best wishes. It's not your typical "good luck," though. "Bon courage" denotes a struggle where inner strength will determine the outcome (French Stack Exchange).

So bon courage to you as we enter the new year. May you tackle your challenges, strive to improve, and discover empowerment.

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Transitions: What I Learned from My First Semester of College

Amherst, MA, USA
Peacoat, Sears | Sweater, Kohl's | Scarf, China | Skirt, thrifted Express | Oxfords, Forever 21

I thought shooting an outfit would be a good way to de-stress after getting a midterm back...until I saw my obvious "I'm so done" expression in some of these photos.

Recently though, I've been smiling plenty--I've tackled finals, flown home, overcome a bout of winter viruses, visited my high school, started working at Nordstrom again, spent quality time with friends--it's begun to sink in that I've actually made it out of first semester alive.

So, here, a quasi-recap and some tidbits of wisdom I gained these past four months:

Perspective: Instagram Recap

Dressed in black to mourn our grades...and by chance, for an orchestra concert
Chasing the sun
Snack break
Nothing like hot tea and cozy sweaters
A fruit arrangement in honor of this no refined foods challenge
Festive sweaters make me happy
College: where riding in a car is a luxury
The best fruit

It's almost finals week, which means anxiety and the constant desire to cry, sleep, and eat dark chocolate have replaced my usual contemplative state. The philosophical thoughts will have to wait until next time. There are papers to write, exams to study for, stressors to conquer.

Until then, enjoy some of my favorite instagram posts, in reverse chronological order. If you'd like to keep up some of my artsy endeavors and life happenings, you can find me here: @imperfectidealist. Also, I've been regularly updating lookbook and chictopia, so if you're looking for outfit posts, head on over there.

Talk to you all soon, and best of luck on any exams or projects.

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