Reflecting on 25 Years

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For as long as I can remember I have been looking forward to my 26th birthday. My 26th birthday is also my golden birthday so I thought that meant something amazing. As a kid I imagined that 26 would be the best age, I’d have my whole life figured out by then.

I turn 26 on Saturday and I know that I don’t have my whole life figured out but that’s okay. I’ve spent the past week reflecting on my 25 years on this planet. All the good, the bad, and the incredibly ugly moments that have made up every second of my existence. I thought I’d share the thoughts that have been floating through my mind as I prepare for this special milestone in my life.

  •  I’ve spent all but 20 months of my life with a built in best friend. Being a big sister wasn’t always my favorite thing but I’m so glad to have my sister!
  • My grandparents have always been a huge part of my life. All three of them have supported, comforted, and cheered me on and I’m grateful to have them.
  • My mom is the best person in the world. I can count on her for anything and even at *almost* 26 years old I still need my mom!
  • My dad and I haven’t always gotten along but I know he had good intentions. Having two daughters wasn’t his dream but he always supported us and provided for us. I’m glad I’m no longer a sassy teenager and we can get along!
  • Brett has been a major part of my life for the last 8 years. He’s been my shoulder to cry on, my pillar of strength, and my friend. Like I said in my wedding vows, Brett came into my life when I really needed a friend. He was brought to me at the perfect time and I’m always grateful to have him as my other half.
  • Lucy and Oscar are my furbabies and they make me so happy. Lucy was a gift from my parents after I went through a really rough patch in high school. She’s the perfect therapy animal and is always there for me when I’m upset. Oscar is the goofiest dog and really completes our little family (for now!).
  • Middle School and High School were some of the hardest years of my life. I couldn’t wait to graduate and forget all of the horrors that I experienced. It’s been 7 years since I graduated and I realize that all of those terrible moments made me who I am today. I’m stronger because of the tough moments.
  • College wasn’t what I expected. I worked hard in class and at my job and didn’t really have the time to socialize. I’m glad I went to business school but wish that maybe I had tried to make a few more friends. I struggled a lot during these years.
  • Studying abroad in London was the highlight of my college career. I made friendships that have lasted despite the distance between us. London became my second home and for a homebody like me, that says a lot.
  • Unfortunately, migraines and headaches have been a huge part of my life. I’m still struggling but I’ll keep fighting for as long as it takes!
  • We had a foreign exchange student live with us during my sophomore year in high school. She was a family friend from Denmark and I was so excited to finally have an older “sister”. She is beautiful and loving but I was a brat. I learned so much about other cultures during this time and am proud to call her my sister to this day. She even came to our wedding and played an important part in our day!
  • People say that your wedding day is the happiest day of your life. That wasn’t true for me because I knew that there would be many “happiest” days for us as a couple. Our wedding day was one of many happy days but it felt amazing to be surrounded by people who loved us so much and wanted to celebrate our life together.
  • Buying our house was special. Everything fell into place and we found the most amazing home to start our life together in. We walked in and I knew that I knew that this house was meant for us. I have never felt so settled in my life! I’m happy to be here and add our happy memories to this incredible home.
  • I’ve had two best friends since the third grade. We may not talk everyday or see each other often but I know that I can always count on them.
  • I went through a really tough breakup in high school that set the rest of my life in motion. I would be so different if I hadn’t gone through this breakup exactly the way it happened. It’s hard to acknowledge that this was a pivotal life moment for me.
  • After graduating college I jumped into the job search like it was my second job. I struggled for those couple of months after college before I found a job. I stumbled into my current job because I knew that the company was amazing. It wasn’t my dream job but I knew I’d be happy. Three years later and I’m so grateful that I took the leap of faith!
  • In school I struggled with anxiety and depression which I don’t often talk about. I learned a lot about myself during these times and continue to learn as I grow older. In high school I also struggled with body image and an eating disorder. All of these things have shaped me into who I am today. I’m sad for past Hayley but glad that these hurdles were added to my journey to make me a stronger and more empathetic person.
  • Band was a huge part of my life! I played the flute from 5th to 12th grade. I took private lessons, made symphonic band as a freshman, was a total marching bank geek, and made SO many band friends along the way. I think I would have been lost in high school without band. I even considered being a music performance major in college!
  • My parents always provided a warm home, food, clothes, and toys without making us spoiled brats. I learned the value of a dollar at an early age and have always been financially savvy which has proven to be helpful in my current career in finance.
  • In 2011 I traveled to Europe for the first time with my high school band. This trip opened my eyes up to a whole new world of possibilities. From that moment on I was always planning my next trip. I want to see the world and am grateful that I had this opportunity to inspire me to chase my dreams.
  • My parents have fought for me. They have helped me chase every dream, they have supported me, and they have loved me when I was pretty unlovable. I know that I’m lucky to have them.
  • I’ve been all over the world, I’ve left my heart in so many places. Yet the feeling of coming home is always my favorite.
  • Here’s to the hundreds of notebooks that I filled with stories, songs, poems, and random thoughts throughout the years. I recently went through these notebooks that dated all the way back to preschool. I’ve always been a writer and I’m glad I found blogging to fulfill my passion.
  • Speaking of blogging, in the next couple of weeks I will be celebrating SIX years of Life of Hayley! I never imagined that my passion for writing would take me here. To a platform where I can share my most precious thoughts and feelings and be understood and acccepted. Thank you for sharing my journey with me!

All of these little moments, these struggles, these “happiest” days have made me who I am today. These friends, family, and loved ones have shaped and inspired me. I’ve been hardened by the struggles to know my worth and to fight for what I believe in. I’ve learned to love myself even when I think that no one else does.

The past 25 years have been challenging, exciting, emotional, and adventurous. What will the next 25 or 50 years bring? I have no idea! But that’s part of the adventure!

If you have gotten this far, thank you so much for reading! I am a sentimental introvert!

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7 Reasons Why You Should Say “Yes” To Studying Abroad

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As many of you may know, I studied abroad in 2015 at Regent’s University in London, England. You can find all of my study abroad posts here if you’re interested. Studying abroad was one of the most terrifying, exhilarating, and life-changing experiences and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I flew home from Heathrow.

I knew I wanted to study abroad in London after traveling there with band the summer before my senior year of high school. I fell in love with the culture, history, and architecture and could already picture myself strolling around London solo. My love for London was strong and four years later my dream came true when I got accepted to Regent’s University’s study abroad program.

If you are contemplating study abroad I have one main piece of advice for you: GO! It’s scary and you’ll miss home but this is a once in a lifetime experience to fully immerse yourself in a new culture and way of life.

Here are seven more reasons you should study abroad in college:

  1. Studying abroad will look great on your resume! Employers are looking for things that set candidates apart. Study abroad will give you a global perspective that not everyone will have. Plus, it shows that you are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
  2. You’ll meet friends from all over the world. The friends I met in London continue to be some of my best friends today. I was able to meet people from all over the world including Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and many many more. I learned about their cultures, languages, and customs. I was the only American in my classes which was a really awesome experience!
  3. You can travel to some really cool places. This is especially true if you study abroad in Europe because it’s really inexpensive to travel between European countries. You can plan quick weekend getaways or week long adventures during school breaks. Depending on where you study abroad you may even be able to join school sponsored trips. My university offered trips to Paris, Scotland, Stonehenge, and many others.
  4. You won’t be the same after. Study abroad is guaranteed to change your life in some way. You will have new friends, new memories, and new experiences that will shape you for the rest of your life.
  5. Studying abroad makes you grateful for the life you have. I loved my study abroad experience but coming home made me appreciate all of the little things even more. I missed my parents, my sister, and Brett while I was gone but being away from them made me appreciate them so much more. I also appreciated all of sacrifices my family made in order to help me study abroad.
  6. You’ll gain real life experiences. I had so many opportunities in London that I never would have had at home. I participated in a global business conference where I had to present in front of a large group of my peers and business men and women from all over the world. Experiences like this prepared me for the “real” world after graduation and made me confident in my abilities.
  7. You’ll become more independent. There will be times when you wish your mom or dad could be around to help you but they are hundreds of miles away. At the time it’ll feel awful but it will allow you to problem solve on your own. You will have to grocery shop, do your own laundry, and plan trips by yourself or with your new friends. You will come home with a new sense of independence and be ready for whatever life throws your way next.

I know that studying abroad can be scary. It’s hard to leave your home university, your family, and your friends. But putting yourself out there is so important. I almost talked myself out of going hundreds of times but I am super happy that I took a leap of faith and went.

Let me know if you have any questions about studying abroad. I documented the whole process from applying, getting accepted, packing, and my adventures abroad if you need any inspiration for why you should go.

I can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

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