The Blogger Comparison Game

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A couple of years ago I took an internet marking class in college that made me decide to quit blogging. I had already been blogging for a couple of years at this point and no longer could handle it. I hated comparing myself to other bloggers and their successes. I hated looking at my stats and feeling like a failure because I couldn’t meet the goals that I had set for myself. I decided that I hated everything about blogging and shut my door to the community that I worked so hard to connect with.

I never thought that I would come out of blogging “retirement” but I’m so glad that I did! I pretty much had to build myself back up from nothing and it was rough. I let fear and self doubt crush everything that I had created and I almost let that fear win.

Blogging in the age of social media influencers is much harder than when I started this blog almost six years ago. When I started writing a blog for a college English class I never expected to love it and want to keep writing after the class was over. Having this space has become my creative outlet and all of you have become my internet friends.

Still, I find myself comparing my little piece of the internet to other’s. I feel a sense of belonging in the blogging community yet still compare my posts and pictures to everyone else’s. I cheer people on while tearing myself down because I’m a perfectionist and nothing ever feels good enough.

The blogger comparison game is real. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way and I wanted to share how I’ve been coping with my feelings.

The wonderful bloggers who I follow are amazing people. I’ve never met them in real life but I can tell because they put so much into their writing. Instead of comparing myself to them I’ve been trying to instead put my energy into engaging and building others up too. If I follow you it’s because I honestly love reading your content and I want you to do well!

As bloggers we have the unique ability to put our thoughts out into the world in either a negative or positive way. Playing this stupid comparison game with myself was a negative behavior and it was hurting my blogging. I will probably never be a social media influencer and that’s okay. I’ll always be a shy introvert who is just happy to share her truth with the world.

Do you find yourself getting caught up in the comparison game? How do you deal with it?

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Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

Our Love Story: 8 Year Anniversary

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8 years ago today Brett and I went on our first date. Our mutual friend had introduced us through text one night when I was hanging out with her. We hit it off right away and talked everyday for a couple of weeks. Brett finally asked me out on a date while I was at my friend’s cottage on the lake. I was 17 and getting ready for my senior year of high school. Brett was 19 and was starting his junior year of college.

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Our first date was on August 19, 2011 at a mini golf and arcade place in our hometown. I remember seeing him for the first time as he got out of his car and walked towards mine. He was wearing a football jersey for our local university. The same university he was currently attending and I was hoping to attend in a year. I thought he was super cute and sweet.

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After our first date we were pretty much inseparable. We spent the rest of summer 2011 falling in love with each other. He took me to an early hot air balloon launch and we followed the balloons with his car. I navigated while he drove. After that we had breakfast at a cute little diner and then spent the day at the zoo. It was the perfect date day.

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Brett was so supportive during my senior year. He came to marching band competitions, football games, flute concerts, and every graduation occasion.  He took me to prom and we danced the night away together. He helped setup my graduation party and stayed with me the whole day.

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My favorite part of our story is our years in college. Brett was already attending my dream university so we ended up at college together! We both lived on campus my freshman year so we were able to eat meals together, study in the library, and hang out with friends. He helped me get acclimated to college and made the transition so much easier.

My junior year of college was when I decided to study abroad in London. It was a hard decision to make to be gone for 5 months but Brett was very supportive. I had been talking about studying abroad in London the whole time we were dating so he knew it was going to happen. He attended study abroad fairs with me and helped me choose the perfect program in London.

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Studying abroad was hard. This was the most difficult thing we had ever had to go through in our relationship but it made us a lot stronger. We were in different time zones and it was hard to make time to Skype. We planned on Brett coming to visit at the end of the semester with my mom and sister. It felt surreal when they finally bought their tickets!

Brett came a few days early so we could spend time with my new friends and I could show him around. I think he fell in love with London as much as I did during this trip. Once my mom and sister joined us we traveled around London, and to Denmark and Ireland. It was the trip of a lifetime!

The day I had to say goodbye to my friends in London was very memorable. Brett was planning on proposing to me and had been carrying around my engagement ring. He should have told my family his plan though! He left the ring in the safe while we went to dinner with my friends. My mom and sister found the ring box and opened it. While Dani was trying my ring on, my mom was texting her friend. Instead of texting her friend though she texted me on accident! She told me not to tell Brett but he had already seen the text.

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I spent the rest of the trip wondering when Brett would propose. He didn’t propose in Denmark even though my exchange sister had set up the perfect scene. He didn’t propose in Ireland or on our last day in London. On our last night we stayed in a hotel by Heathrow. We went down to the hotel lobby to print our boarding passes and Brett asked me to take a walk with him. It was on that night, on some random road near Heathrow Airport, where Brett asked me to spend my life with him.

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We decided not to do any wedding planning until after graduation. We got engaged in 2015 and planned for a 2017 wedding. Our engagement was also hard. I was only 21 so I felt pretty isolated. Brett and I had been together for 4 years and I expected people to be thrilled for us. Instead I just felt really lonely.

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We graduated in the spring of 2016 and both of us had to figure out what to do next. We started applying for jobs and having interviews on top of planning our wedding. We picked a date, August 19th, 2017, a venue, and I picked a dress. Finally we both landed jobs and everything figured itself out.

In December 2016 we moved into a cute little apartment together and made it into our first semi-permanent home. We both moved around so much in college so it was nice to finally be settled. We had so many great times in that apartment!

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Two years ago, on August 19th, 2017, I finally go to say “I do” and marry my best friend! You can read about my favorite wedding moments here if you are interested! Our wedding was English Garden themed with lots of flowers, music, friends, and family. We collected hundreds of antique teacups for the centerpieces and decor.

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Our honeymoon was in London and we were able to spend two weeks visiting all of our favorite places. It was the best! The last two years of marriage has been filled with ups and downs including buying a house, adopting a dog, changing jobs, etc.

Two years of marriage and six years of dating has flown by. We’ve had so many amazing memories together and I can’t wait for many more to come. Marriage isn’t always easy but it is always worth it.

Thanks for reading!

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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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5 Tips For Finding Your Dream Job

5 Tips For Finding Your Dream Job

After my post about finding my dream job in the most unexpected place I decided to share a few tips on how you can find your own dream job! I read numerous blogs while I was searching for a job but I never thought that I’d find my dream job right out of college. 

If you want to know more about my job search and career path you can find it all in this post

  1. Keep an open mind. Like I mentioned before, I thought my current job would be a stepping stone for future opportunities. I had no idea that I would find myself in such an amazing position on an unbeatable team! Keep an open mind when you are applying for jobs and take the chance if you are excited about the company. There’s usually room for advancement and it’s good to get your foot in the door. 
  2. Fill out those applications! I cannot even tell you how many job applications I filled out during my job search. It’s super important to fill applications for jobs that you are interested in applying for in a timely fashion. There’s usually a pretty wide window to turn in your application but the sooner you can turn it in the better. 
  3. Be honest in your interview. When I was interviewing for my current company I was honest in saying that my background was in marketing and not finance but I was excited to learn a new industry. I talked about my strength in working in a fast paced environment and learning quickly under pressure. I also explained how I may not be the most qualified candidate but I could be the best teammate if given the chance. Don’t go into an interview assuming that you are the best person in the world for the job. Be humble and honest when you talk about why you are interested in the position and what unique talents you can bring to the company. 
  4. Ask questions about the job. Come prepared with a few questions that you can ask during the interview because the person interviewing you will ask if you have any. While you are being interviewed it’s important to think of some additional questions that relate to what you are talking about. We have had a couple of interviews where the candidate didn’t have any questions for my team and it was pretty clear that there wasn’t much interest in the job on their part. 
  5. Be picky! I know this goes against my #1 suggestion but let me explain a little. My first job interview after college was for a marketing company that seemed more than a little fishy. After doing some more digging I realized that they were disguising a sales position with a marketing title and it was really a sales job for a pyramid scheme. I was just so happy to have an interview that I almost accepted the job even though I knew I’d be miserable. This tip is more about not settling for a job you’ll end up hating just to say you got a job.

I really hope these tips help you land the career you’ve always dreamed of! Remember that great things can take time and there’s no rush. It may take a long time to find your dream job and that’s okay. Honestly, your dream job may change a hundred times during your career. Keep an open mind and you will be just fine! 

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

 

4 Years Later: A Reflection on Study Abroad

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January 24, 2015 was a day that changed my life forever.

In 2011 I visited London for the first time on a band trip. It was love at first sight and I immediately felt like I was at home in the city. We left London for Paris after just a couple of days but I told my friends that I would be back in a few years to Study Abroad.

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Studying abroad scared me to death even though it was something I knew that I had to do in my heart and soul. It was something I had wrestled over doing for years but knew that I would be regret it if I didn’t. So I packed my bags, gave notice to my job, and left.

When I said goodbye to my mom, dad, sister, and Brett at the airport I tried to stay strong. But the moment I got through security I completely lost it and sobbed all the way to my departure gate. Luckily enough, I was traveling with a girl from my home university who would end up being my roommate in London. She showed me true kindness that day and I’m really grateful that I had her there with me.

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I’ll never forget the moment I saw Regent’s University for the first time. I had studied pictures, maps, and brochures for months but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I arrived. The dorms were like something out of a Harry Potter movie. The university itself was small but beautiful.

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I made friends life-long friends at orientation that week and found myself exploring the city with my classmates. It was freeing.

My family likes to joke that I was born old. I’m a homebody and I always tend to take care of others before myself. I started working at 17 and took that job very seriously. In college I worked long hours and went to class full time in order to graduate in 4 years. Studying abroad was my chance to be selfish. To worry only about my happiness and to finally take some time off of work and act my age.

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Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

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I felt like a brand new person. I was the “fun” friend for once in my life. One of my friends even called me “irresponsible” which at first upset me but looking back I’m so happy that I got to not be the responsible one for the first time. I had a great group of girls to hang out with. We traveled on weekends and during Easter break. We had lunch together everyday and they really seemed to get me.

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Sometimes I wish I could go back. On our honeymoon in 2017 we went to London and visited Regent’s. I e-mailed a few weeks before to get visitors passes for campus so that I could officially show Brett around. We sat in the library, walked through the refectory, and went by every classroom that I had classes in. We walked through the park and admired the grounds in the summer. But something was missing.

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London will always be my favorite place to visit. It will always be the home of some of my happiest memories. It will always be the place where I met my best group of friends. And it will always be the place where Brett asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.

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Our honeymoon showed me that it’s okay to move on. London will always be waiting for me and my friends will always be just a WhatsApp message away. Things have changed but I’m still grateful that I got to be the “fun” friend for a few months. I really found myself when I was in London and discovered who I am as a person. But London is no longer my home. My home is now with Brett and it’s time to make new memories.

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4 years ago I took a giant leap of faith when I stepped aboard an airplane flying from Chicago to London. That terrifying decision was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Everyday I am grateful that I had the experience to meet friends from all over the world. And I am SO glad that I had this blog to document all of the moments of my time in London. I love looking back on my study abroad posts.

Thanks so much for reading!

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5 Years of Blogging!

5 Years of Blogging

In November Life of Hayley turned 5! Since then I have been struggling on how to properly commemorate this very special occasion. 

Let me start out by saying that I began this blog right after my 20th birthday as a way to document the 25 things I wanted to accomplish before turning 25. At the time I was a sophomore in college and felt incredibly lost about what to do with my life. I felt unaccomplished and lonely. I had started a blog the year before for my freshman English class so the thought of writing had been in my head for some time. My 20th birthday was the perfect starting point for a lifestyle blog.

In the beginning I wrote about whatever I wanted and it was never about the views, likes, or comments. When I studied abroad in London I posted once a week and my blog gained a small following. I really loved the interaction with fellow bloggers and fell in love with the community. My senior year of college I took an internet marketing class that forced me to once again start a new blog. I spent all my time and energy on getting traffic to that blog. My grade was based on the number of followers, likes, and comments. I started to hate blogging when I no longer felt joy in interacting and instead found myself fixated on the stats. After I graduated from college I took almost a full year off of blogging and honestly thought that I would never blog again. 

My current job is what inspired me to open my laptop and start writing. I work in finance so there’s very little creativity in my normal day-to-day activities. I found myself wanting to write again about getting married and life after college. My first post was a challenge to write but after that I got back into the swing of things. 

My life has changed greatly since the day I sat in my dorm room and began writing. Life of Hayley has developed into something that I’m really proud of. This community has supported me during some of the hardest moments of my life and for that I am grateful. I hope 5 years from now I’ll be around to reflect on my 10 years of blogging.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Travel Playlist – A Week In Italy

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Hello from Italy (hopefully)!

I am scheduling this post a week in advance but *fingers crossed* Brett and I are currently in Rome!

The most popular blog post that I have ever written was my Study Abroad Playlist in 2015. I am still blown away by the number of views that I receive each week on this post! Music is so important to me and I love having a playlist for each trip that I take. This trip to Rome has been one that I have been dreaming about since I was in Elementary school. I’m so grateful to get the chance to visit!

I should also mention during this trip I will be living out my Lizzie McGuire movie dreams so of course there will be songs from the movie soundtrack. 🙂 I hope you enjoy this little taste of Rome.

Volare – Vitamin C

Pompeii – Bastille

Walking On Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves

Daydream Believer – The Monkees

Learning to Fly – Tom Petty

Go Big Or Go Home – American Authors

Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root

New Soul – Yael Naim

What Dreams Are Made Of – Hilary Duff

Here I Go Again – Whitesnake

Where The Streets Have No Name – U2

The Nights – Avicci

Have Love Will Travel – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

I Love This Life – LOCASH

What are your favorite songs for traveling?

Thanks for reading!

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