Alissa sipping on a glass of red wine outside.

Life Update: One Year Older, Wiser, and Happier

inspiration Jun 10, 2019

Life is so subtle sometimes that you barely notice yourself walking through the doors you once prayed would open.


That sentence makes my breath catch in my throat.

Life happens so gradually; we often take for granted what’s right in front of us because we’re always looking for what’s next. We forget how much time we spent dreaming of having exactly what we have right now.

At dinner the other night, Matt and I were talking about what our 14-year-old selves would say if we saw ourselves now.

Matt said his younger self would be like, “Hold on… whose identity did you steal?!” Haha. He’s come a long way.

I know I’d be so proud and excited to be the woman I am today. I’m just doing so much more than I ever thought I was capable of.

I say that because I used to really, really struggle with low self-esteem. Timid, insecure, and unsure were words you could use to describe me. I people-pleased and constantly looked to others for validation. I focused on my flaws when I looked in the mirror. I cursed myself for always being so sensitive. I always thought I was so awkward and shy.

Newsflash! I still don’t have it all together and I really want to stress that. If you read my blog posts or see me on social media and assume things are always great; they’re not! I really struggle some days. Some days I’m guilty of being negative, selfish, irritable, you name it.

The difference now is that I know my worth so when I get down, I don’t stay there. I understand that I’m human and I’m trying my best. Some days my best is amazing, other days it’s pretty mediocre.

Self-acceptance, self-love, self-compassion. These are three things I’ve learned and gotten better at this past year.

  • If I say something stupid and feel socially awkward for a moment, that’s just part of me being me. I can be shy and a little quirky. The right people will still like me.
  • If I overreact and act in a way I wish I hadn’t, it doesn’t mean I’m a terrible person. I’m allowed to have moments of weakness. We all are. I’m still worthy of being loved even when I’m a little harder to love.
  • If I’m scared and unsure of myself when tackling a new project, it doesn’t mean I should shy away. It means I should give it a shot and try. It means I can be okay with being imperfect the first time around because that’s how you learn.
  • If I look in the mirror and only see the fine lines on my forehead and the zit on my chin, I don’t need to get down on myself for it. I’m human. Those lines have come from expressing myself. The zit from celebrating my birthday eating queso. AKA living my life. When one area of life is balanced (socializing) then sometimes the other part becomes a little out of balance (health); that’s okay! It’s never going to be perfect. Let it go.

My value isn’t derived from being perfectly poised and pretty and positive. I’m valuable simply because I’m me. You’re valuable because you’re you.

Birthday Blessings

My birthday was the other day. I think growing a year older is the perfect landmark to reflect on your personal growth; to see how far you’ve come in the past year.

Like I mentioned above, I’ve gotten better at accepting myself. I’ve also gotten better at facing my fears and taking chances. I’ve gotten better at speaking up and being comfortable being me.

I have a feeling some of this comes with age and experience; that wisdom and confidence you gain only from years passing by. You start to realize you don’t need to spend time worrying about things (or people) that don’t matter. You just care less. I feel silly talking about wisdom when I’m only 27, but I’ve always felt like an old soul.

Anyway, I was also intentional on my birthday last year about what I wanted and the type of woman I wanted to be.

It was fun to look back at this page and see how much of it I accomplished. 26 was an amazing year. We bought our first home. I took my first trip to Europe. I went on my first women’s retreat. I led a volunteer project at work. It was challenging, exciting, and filled with personal growth.

“If You Don’t Ask, The Answer is Always No”

On the way to work the other morning, I was blasting “Fly Solo” by Wiz Khalifia, one of my favorite songs from college. Tears started stinging my eyes and suddenly I was crying, ten minutes from the office.

The realization hit me. I’m really freaking doing it! This little Minnesota girl, me! I’m living a life I love. I’m being myself and people like me for it. In fact, I think they like me better than when I tried to be someone else to “fit in”.

I recognized I was walking through doors I’d once prayed would open for me.

This overwhelming feeling hit me because, a couple days before my birthday, I accepted a job offer for a position I’ve been wanting for years. I’m going to be a Merchandise Planner at Vans!

Do I know if I’ll be good at it? Nope, but I hope so.

I was scared to go for this position because I hadn’t been at Vans for too long. I felt bad leaving my team. I was nervous I wouldn’t be good at it. But, I did it anyway. Despite being scared. Despite not knowing what the future will look like. And that’s what feels so good. That’s the type of woman I want to be.

You see, I felt guilty telling my boss I wanted to move into another department. I’ve known my boss since I first moved to California. I’m loyal to her so I felt like a jerk telling her I was interested in another role after only being at Vans for, like, 8 months at the time.

But, here’s something my mom taught me when I was a kid: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

I had to be true to myself and think of what’s best for me. I knew in my heart I was tired of being an Allocation Analyst. I’ve done it for almost five years. I was going grow resentful if I continued doing it. So, I heard my mom’s voice in my head and started the uncomfortable conversation with my boss.

Thankfully, my initial worries were put to rest when my boss was completely receptive and encouraging. She wanted to see me spread my wings and fly. She fully had my back. And that is a great boss.

“The squeaky wheel gets the oil,” is another phrase I remembered hearing early in my career.

So, I kept the conversation going with my boss. I made sure to keep talking about my future; I checked in to be sure I was on track to move into Merchandise Planning as soon as there was a role available. I asked for more work in the meantime. I tried to enjoy the position I was in until I could move on.

*Squeak squeak*

Almost a year after that initial conversation and finally a position opened up. At the worst timing, of course. They’d just moved me into a new role on the Allocation team. I’d just gotten trained in and almost comfortable on my own in this new position. I was about to ruin that right before Back to School? Yep. I was nervous but I had to go for it.

With my boss’ full support, I raised my hand for the position and like any other applicant, I had to go through the entire interview process.

I’d been waiting years for this. I wasn’t going to mess this up.

I stayed up late studying retail math; I studied the business I’d be planning; I prepared for all the potential interview questions. I experienced that old, familiar feeling of nervous excitement. I was terrified, which meant I was doing the right thing. I’ve grown to love being afraid because it means I’m growing and getting out of my comfort zone.

On the day of my interviews, I spent four hours speaking with four different people. I ended the day exhausted; feeling like I’d gotten socked in the face by all the questions. It was all a blur and I just hoped I’d done well enough for them to want to hire me.

And, I did it. I got the dang job. A job I’ve been wanting for so long. The thing is, I don’t even know if it’s going to be something I love doing. I don’t know if I’ll be great at it. I don’t know how I’ll measure up to the other planners. It doesn’t matter. I won’t know until I try. But if I don’t try, I also don’t know. I’d rather try than always wonder what if.

Shine Your Light and You’ll Light the Way for Others

I was floating on cloud nine as I pictured myself moving into that new role at work. My head was off in dream world. So if that wasn’t enough, that same week, I got invited to a special event at Vans called the Van Doren Project.

An admin came by my desk and enthusiastically presented the invitation to me. It came on nothing less than the rubber sole of a Vans shoe. They’ve done this event for two years now and only one person is selected to go per department. The fact that I was nominated felt like such an honor.

Why? Why are these good things happening to me? I kept thinking.

“Good things happen to good people.” The people in my life tell me. Sure! But I’m not always a good person. Not this good. When’s it going to come to a head? When is something bad going to happen after all this good?

Thank goodness for Brené Brown. I remembered what she’d said in her Netflix special about vulnerability. She said allowing ourselves to feel joy is vulnerable. When we feel overjoyed, our natural reaction is to then feel afraid of when the bad thing is going to happen. There’s just no way things can stay good, right?

Instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, Brené says to just be grateful for the blessings you’re experiencing. Be grateful for the joy.

So, that’s where I’m at. I’m another year older, wiser, happier, and more blessed. I feel like I’m becoming more me and I can honestly say this blog has been a huge, huge part of that. This blog represents me facing my fears, speaking my truth, and following my passion.

It represents the type of woman I want to be.

The type of woman who does what she wants; who follows her own path and leads the way for others. Who always takes chances, despite being scared. Who risks looking stupid and not having all the answers. Who asks for what she needs, despite the initial conversation being uncomfortable. Who’s boldly, unapologetically, herself.

With love,