Do You Feel Behind on Life?

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be like my older sisters. They're fun and kind and never made me feel like the uncool tagalong. They even let me wear their clothes when they were in high school and I was nine, never mind the difference in our sizes. 


By second semester of senior year of college, I was ready to graduate; I felt like I had overcooked. Chris and I have talked a lot about why I was so eager to join the real world. Even though I loved college and my friends, seeing my sisters' adult lives left me chomping at the bit to get on with things. They made adulthood look good and I wanted to join them in that season. 

Years later, my sister, Courtney, told me she was pregnant with her fifth and final babe. I struggled with a little bit of jealousy, but, what I felt even more strongly was a mourning period. I always thought we'd have the chance to be pregnant together someday and, since I wasn't married at the time, I knew this dream was coming to an end. My sisters shared multiple pregnancies and their babies' newborn years. I felt like I did when I was nine: I wanted in on this. But borrowing their clothes wouldn't cut it this time. Although, for the record, I do still peruse their closets.

photo by  Natalie Puls

photo by Natalie Puls

I realized recently, as I watched them send their babes off to school again this fall, that there is a part of me that always believed I'd catch up with them. As I snuggled McCoy and scrolled through their precious first day photos, it hit me that this was not the case. Not because I'm behind or doing something wrong, but because I'm not supposed to. 

To be clear, I'm not supposed to catch them, but not just because they're older than me. It's because we're walking our own paths at our own paces. We are each living the lives that were designed for us. They got married much younger than I did and had babies in their 20s. Chris and I got married just a few months before my 30th birthday.


But number crunching doesn't do us any good - because that's not what learning to enjoy and embrace our lives is about. 

It can be just as easy to compare ourselves to younger siblings and friends. During my less-than-settled seasons, I've even found myself comparing my life to bloggers: she met her husband at 26 and started a family at 28 and had this business by 31!? What am I doing wrong?

I'm learning these days that if comparison is the thief of joy, the belief that we can catch one another is its mighty sidekick. Thinking we are "behind" in life only perpetuates an unnecessary cycle of competition and comparison.


Last fall, I had the chance to be pregnant with my sister, Ashley, and my sister-in-law, Abbey. Now we're sharing these sweet baby days, navigating each new phase together. I never dreamed I'd get to share these seasons with them.


The whole experience has reminded me of one of life's greatest truths: we never know how much good is coming down the road. But if we can learn to trust that our time is coming, we can sink into the present much more easily. 

So here's to today and tomorrow, the slow days and the fast ones, the abundant and the sparse. And to every season in between. May you rest in the joy and uniqueness of each season.

How to Make Friends in a New City

Hello, butterbeans! This is a repost from 2013, with just a handful of changes throughout. It is one of my most-read posts of all time and, as many of you are graduating from college and moving cities, I thought it was a good time to share it again. Happy moving!

Does anyone have this image source? I cannot find!

Does anyone have this image source? I cannot find!

The end of this month officially marks three years in Atlanta for me, which is insane because it feels like only yesterday that I packed up a U-Haul and moved here. At the same time, though, it feels like a lifetime ago that I was living in Indy with my parents. So, so many things in my life have changed. My Brookhaven apartment is a world away now. (What I didn't tell you in 2013 is that I had also gone through a really tough breakup after moving here for a boy. Atlanta felt big and scary and lonely for a long, long time.)

Since moving here, I've gotten a lot of requests for a post on how to make friends in a new city. And while I, by no means, consider myself a pro, I figured I might as well share what I know. 

Friendships after college fit right into the entire decade of our 20s perfectly: they're a total adjustment. 

They're amazing because you're growing up together - learning how to be a mini adult, bonding over the woes of working (where's our summer?), figuring out how to cook, learning the absolute beauty of the weekend.

But you're also paying bills. Learning to say no. Realizing that a best friend after college doesn't mean spending every waking minute together, eating late night food, sharing closets and cracking up over the ridiculous thing that guy said.

No, instead, these friendships are about growing through this transition together and figuring out where we all net out. 

You begin to see that we're not all the same. When you're not living the same life [wake up, class, workout, class, eat, study, go out. Begin again.], priorities become very real.

There are people that will still go out every night, rolling into work hungover but somehow magically presentable. There are people that get married and have babies right away. There are those that fly through corporate America, pouring themselves into the latter, climbing and climbing. And there are those who are slowly trying to figure it out - manage a balance of collegehood and adulthood, maturity and grace. 

Find your people. They're all good people. Find the ones that suit you. And, here's how I think you should do it...

How to Make Friends in a New City

1. Be vulnerable. I know. I really started with a zinger. But it's key. You have to be willing to put yourself out there - ask people to do something, be a little more open than you traditionally would be and keep on trying. Sometimes you don't connect the first time you hang out. Sometimes people are crazy busy. Keep asking. 

I am embarrassed to admit this, but when I first moved here, if I met someone in a social setting and could see myself being friends with them, I'd say: I know we just met, but do you want to hang out sometime? And then, I'd normally add: I just moved here and don't really have any friends yet, but you seem great! 

And you know what? Normally they would say: I did, too! It's so hard not knowing anyone! When you're honest with people about your intentions and feelings, it's amazing how honest they'll be in return. Some of my greatest friendships here began with that pickup line. 

(Also, the entire experience of asking girls on friend-dates gave me so much more sympathy for boys. It's nerve wracking!)

2. Be a yes man. I realize this totally goes against all my unglorification of busyness business. But this is a sprint, my friends. In the marathon of life, I still believe in slowing down and prioritizing. However, when you're trying to make friends, sometimes you just have to be that girl that says yes to things. You can't get to know people if you always go home and sit on the couch. It's after you make friends that you begin hibernating. 


But seriously: say yes to things. When Melly and I first met, we clicked pretty quickly. And we later admitted that a huge draw to one another was that we were both always down to try new things. It's amazing to me how many people (1) refuse to do things on weeknights and (2) aren't willing to get outside of their comfort zones. I'm certainly not suggesting you do things you hate all the time or never, ever have a night at home with wine and your dog. But, when you're first meeting people, be willing to get outside of your comfort zone a bit. It's amazing what you'll learn about yourself and who you'll meet. 

3. Join, join, join things {that interest you}. I am not exaggerating when I say that the majority of the friends I've made since moving here (and didn't meet at work) have been through either (1) my bible study or (2) volunteering for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Do they all go to my church or volunteer there? Heck, no! But they are a friend of a friend of a friend who is now my friend. Besides, when you meet people who do care about the things you care about, you often find you have other things in common, too. 

4. Go places. I told you a while back that people love to tell me: You could meet your next boyfriend anywhere, even the grocery store! And even though it's not my favorite thing to hear, because it encourages people to act a little crazy at the grocery store (like following the cute boy to the beef jerky section when you're vegan...), there's truth to it. You can meet people anywhere - and you will! You just have to go places. 

When I first moved here, I worked from home because my company was in Indiana. Every day I went to Starbucks and soon learned that this other 20-something guy, Frank, did the same thing. By the end of the first few months, Frank and I were pals. He'd email he if I didn't show up, we'd talk all about his family's vacation home in Marblehead and slowly, we became friends. 

5. Don't be afraid to do things alone. I did so much by myself when I first moved here, and what I learned is that doing things by yourself isn't really that lonely at all. In fact, it's empowering. Today, I'm so glad I have people I can call to do things, yes. But I look back on those days and am grateful for the way trying a new class, joining a club and attending church alone shaped me. I don't fear being alone and now I have no qualms about awkwardly hitting on potential friends, hoping they might like to grab coffee sometime. 

6. Think outside the box. In high school and college, most of my friends were just like me. And that was amazing and fun and we gelled so nicely. But now, a lot of my friends are really different than me. And you know what? It's pretty cool. They teach me to think differently and offer a fresh perspective. Don't be afraid to be friends with someone who looks and acts differently than you. You never know what they'll teach you. 

7. Don't forget your old friends. Making new friends is exciting, but the old ones feel like home. You need them both. My friends and I used to call one another after our girl dates and report back: Yes, I think I like her - we might even hang out again! Or, Nah, she wasn't for me. And then: I'm so glad I have you

8. And remember, it will happen. Be patient. Give yourself grace. Know that it takes time to meet the right friends and develop a connection. As my mom used to tell me when I'd cry to her because I hadn't made friends yet, and just missed the ones I had from home: Once in a lifetime friends are hard to find and you're lucky enough to have found more than one in your lifetime. So, keep trying - it'll happen. And when you look back one day and realize the city doesn't feel so big and scary anymore - it kind of feels like a small town - you'll realize it was worth the wait. I promise. 

let life overflow

When I was a senior in college, a lot of girls in my sorority lived out of the house - meaning they got their own apartments. I remember, at the time, I wanted to live in the house, but kept thinking about how I was really ready to cook for myself and decorate my own place.

When my friends and I were recently back in Bloomington for a bachelorette party, I told them that if I could, I'd tell all those juniors that are making the same decision: live in senior year. You have your whole life to live on your own. This is the last chance you'll have to live with so many of your friends. Enjoy the day parties and dancing on the sundeck in the afternoon. Soak up every late night chat with froyo and blaring music while getting ready together. Enjoy communal meals and showers and the constant togetherness that inevitably fades away when you no longer live with your best friends and have minimal commitments.

As I said it, I realized this advice - this attitude of enjoy-the-now - is just as applicable to my life today, too. In our 20s, it's so easy to want what the people around us have. As I watch my friends move in with boys, move to new cities, have babies or have the incredible joy of living near their families, it's easy to feel overcome by the wanting. It's easy to let it taint the right now.

But right now is really sweet. Are there hard days? Yes. Do I sometimes feel jealous of my friends who are on different tracks than me? Of course. It's natural. But, the older I get, the more I understand that we have to make a choice at some point between overflowing and emptiness. Are we going to decide that what we have is enough - that life is overflowing - and get as much joy out of it as possible? Or are we going to always look at it as though it is not enough - that is is empty?

It got me thinking about life right now and that I really want to remember this phase. I want to soak it in so that in a few years I don't forget how great it is. Because life today is sweet. The days are long and warm and the nights are restful and balmy. Evenings are marked by walks with Chris or frisbee with my brothers. We grill out a lot and can't get enough guacamole. Life is full but not too busy.

I'm not planning a wedding or moving or making any big changes. And sometimes, I may want to rush into those things. The truth is, life right now is sort of in between a lot of different phases. But, if I let it be, it is overflowing. I want to choose to see that and allow myself to rest in its peacefulness.

Someday when things begin to change, I know I'll look back on this phase and remember it as a happy one. It's simpler and has narrowed in a lot of ways. But it's good. It feels like a warm sunny day when the breeze blows across your face. It's sweet and tender and reminds me that right now, I really like doing life with the people around me.

// life lately: spring is good //

Spring life has been the good life lately. 

I went to a bachelorette with dear friends in Bloomington to celebrate our girl Jamie getting married // And celebrated Chris' 28th birthday at Rathbun's // Froyo has pretty much been a diet staple // And we celebrated our friends Mike and Kelsey getting married this past weekend // Duke helped me hang my hammock swing, which is really going to up my porch game // I've spent as much time as possible outside - reading under trees in the park with Chris, going on long walks and soaking up this blissful weather.

I hope you're enjoying your spring, too!