Disclaimer: This post was created as a part of my ongoing partnership with the apparel and lifestyle brand, Lake Effect Co. You can read more about their mission and movement here. Remember to use code WISCONSINISTA for 15% off any in-store or online purchase. As always, all words and thoughts articulated in this article are my own.
ITEMS FEATURED IN THIS POST:
My #PursuitOfCoziness initiative is all about finding strength and comfort in any situation and any place. While it strives to share cozy destinations and travel gear, it also promotes exploration in whatever capacity you are able. When I first saw the waves crewneck from Lake Effect Co., it sparked a perspective that I fall more in love with each day – making waves in all tides.
Breaking It Down
I hope it’s safe to say you love the water, but by no means does that affirmation bind you to a life on beaches, in bikinis, or burning in the sun if that’s not your thing. Whether it’s the lake, ocean, river, gulf, sea, or even just clean tap water flowing out of your faucet that sets your soul on fire, I ship it 100%!
The concept of making waves in all tides means that you feel empowered to make memories, make a name for yourself, and make a difference no matter what your season or situation in life may be. Embracing this concept means embracing your ambitions, inspirations, and idiosyncrasies so that every day is spent manifesting your dreams.
Ever wondered how The Wisconsinista came to be? Why I centered my travel blog around my home state and not exotic destinations? While it’s of course by choice, it’s also the result of a dark struggle I’ve faced my entire life. I’ve already shared some of my tips for balancing adult homesickness, anxiety, and wanderlust on here, but it’s the specific “episode” of those three things colliding at the start of my college career that really turned the tables.
Picture this: You’re a junior in high school. You are honestly in the midst of the greatest four years of your life (so far). Classes are engaging – which makes them easy to succeed in, a supportive group of friends is always nearby, and eating disorder recovery seems more attainable than ever. Given your success, you’re often asked what exciting college and career path you want to take. You pride yourself on your individuality, but feel that your answer to this question isn’t satisfactory.
Success for you looks like an environmental studies degree from a northwoods Wisconsin public college. Success for them looks like a prestigious private university in a big city. While they probably won’t say anything distasteful to you for being honest, you can’t help but feel that you’re disappointing the people you know somehow with your “small” dreams. Can you really dream big by staying in your home state? Can you really stand out by choosing a school with no prestige?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent my entire life trying to stand out. I realize that many would phrase their high school struggles conversely – that they were trying to fit in – but I can’t really buy into that. The girls I admired most during those years, the ones whose lives and friendship I developed a slight obsession for, fit in just fine… because they stood out. They were the best and most dedicated at their sport or boasted an array of academic achievements. I was not the only one who admired those people – and I hope you did, too.
So, with that said, I needed a postgrad plan that stood out. It wouldn’t be true to my character if I didn’t. So I found what I thought was a great and feasible compromise: I would attend a prestigious public university outside of Wisconsin but still aligned with my free spirit and prairie vibes. I decided to study sustainability at Arizona State University. Fast-forward through the section that should probably have been the longest in this blog post, but suffice it to say that my emotional instability got the best of me and I transferred to online classes so I could move back home just three weeks into my first semester.
There is nothing glamorous about spending your first semester of college taking 13 online credits while living at home with your parents. I had chosen that reality, though, and it gave me plenty of time for my depression to return and to contemplate why I really thought this “escape” was what I needed. It made me feel like I could never leave home, even though all I wanted was to adventure. While I was out killing time on a nature walk, snapping pictures of flowers on my iPhone 6, it hit me – I could stand out by redefining travel, adventure, and success. For me, that was making the most of a life stuck in Wisconsin… the name was born three years later.
Tips for Finding Places to Start Splashing
Making waves starts with a single splash. When there are waves all around you, though, how do you find a new place to make a splash? You might want to start by recognizing one or more of your biggest flaws.
This strange suggestion is not about becoming more self-conscious – at least, not in the traditional sense. One could argue that since the goal is to become more self-aware, it is also fair to say that increased consciousness of oneself is possible, but hey. What is one area of life where you feel frustrated with your abilities? What do you seem to lack that comes naturally to most people? Maybe it’s social skills and extroversion like me, or maybe it’s emotional stability, communication skills, health and wellness, etc. Focus on that struggle and how it has come to define your character. It what ways has it limited you? Now, work within that limitation instead of against it and see how you can harness it into something you can succeed at.
Blogging about your struggles like I did can be one effective way to own your flaws. Sharing your story on social media is often met with support and advice from others – even people you’ve never met! If you think about the bloggers and celebrities you follow on social media, you likely resonate most with the content they post that seems the most “real.” Maybe it’s an unedited selfie in pajamas or a relatable video; maybe they open up about a big life struggle they’ve faced that you have, too. This idea that all people want to see on Instagram is a curated version of who you are? Yeah, no. The list of accounts you follow is proof! So share your story (if that sounds therapeutic to you) or comment on the posts of others who shared theirs. Seek out a community who knows your struggle so you can all feel empowered to work through it together! After all, your vibe attracts your tribe… and you’ll never attract your tribe if you give off an ingenuine vibe!
Another way to make waves in any tide is to help others in whatever capacity you can. No action will seem small or unimportant if you don’t make room for that kind of negative self-talk. This is still a concept I am working on, but I have learned that the most successful way to help others is the way that you love most. Even if your passion doesn’t literally take people out of life or death situations, it offers them reliable support in your area of expertise while leaving room for others to help in the ways they do best. Coaching newer water skiers on my team to learn new skills doesn’t have as nice of a ring to it as raising money for disaster relief, but if it’s something I can constantly show up for and give my all to, it’s going to inspire at least one of them to stick with the sport or help others in their own capacity someday. Find something you want to give your all to… and start giving!
It’s important to remember that striving to make your own waves doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired by or emulate the charity done by others. After all, it can be a great thing to surround yourself with positive influences – we’ve been doing that since long before Instagram came around! What are your top tips for making the most of difficult situations?