Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Celebrating Two Years!

holding sunflowers
I was going to go to a local cupcake store for these photos but then I realized the sunflower festival was happening, so I grabbed my nearest seersucker dress and took my most “on brand” photos to date!

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for two years now! It feels like I’ve been at this forever but it also feels like I just started yesterday. In this post I’m going to share a little bit about why I started blogging as well as answering questions that you guys had for me, so let’s get started!

Why I Started Blogging

Here’s a little known fun fact: this is actually my second blog! I was inspired to start one because I used to read a blog about physical therapy school and I tried to start one about being a pre-PT but it didn’t last. I wish I could remember what the name of it was but those posts have been deleted and I transformed that blog into Sunflowers and Seersucker.

I started this blog because I was inspired by bloggers like Kate from Lonestar Southern and Lucy from Daily Dose of Prep. I wanted a place to document my style and share my thoughts and I’m so glad I started! Blogging has become such a fun part of my life and I’m glad I have a space where I can document what I’m doing so I can look back on it later!

walking with sunflowers
Probably checking to see if I have any bugs on me.

The Lessons

Something you may realize is that all of these lessons are centered around a common theme. I apologize if you end up thinking it’s repetitive but here we go:

Be authentic.

All of my favorite bloggers show their day to day life alongside the “highlight reel” that is Instagram. From sharing her hair loss and wig wearing journeys to showing viewers her husband’s broken toe, Dani (@daniaustin on Instagram) is the queen of keeping it real.

I personally believe that everyone who blogs should incorporate lifestyle into their pages if you blog/post on Instagram. I think keeps things interesting while also showing people that life isn’t meant to be perfect. We’ve let social media take over so much of our daily lives that it’s time to learn to laugh at ourselves.

Don’t niche down.

If you’re trying to make it big blogging, you probably shouldn’t listen to this piece of advice because every podcast I listen to tells you to find a niche and they have at least 10x the amount of followers that I have, BUT, if you’re blogging as a hobby write about everything that interests you!

People aren’t one-dimensional, so play to all of your interests. I love picking out cute outfits so I started this blog to share my closet, but I also love reading. So once I found out there were book blogs and #bookstagram I wanted to share my reading list too. It’s easy to get caught up in making things fit your niche but you’re still sharing something valuable it just might not be what someone was expecting. For example, I don’t follow any instagram accounts dedicated to making smoothies (although I do love looking at smoothie bowls) but when someone shares a good looking smoothie I usually screenshot it.

The numbers don’t matter.

This is such a hard one! For the past few weeks I’ve been staring at my follower count on Instagram just willing it to hit 1000. But so much of Instagram just isn’t real!

Real talk: when I first started trying to grow my Instagram I joined a Facebook “likes” group. You could comment on a daily likes thread and you and 99 other people would go like each other’s pictures. Sure my likes went up but I didn’t have anything in common with these people, they weren’t interested in my posts and I wasn’t interested in theirs except for the extra like. Not to mention it was stressful. I was always checking to see if a thread had been posted because I wanted to keep up my number of likes. And you had 12-24 hours to complete all the likes. I can’t even tell you how many times I wrote “oops sorry Instagram won’t let me like anymore posts right now” just because I didn’t have the time/energy to go down the list even though it’s a pretty mindless activity.

So next time you find yourself playing the comparing game, tell yourself that whoever you’re comparing yourself to may be using other sources. It wasn’t just small bloggers who are in those groups, some bigger accounts are there boosting engagement too!

Focus on the people.

This is social media we’re talking about. Not thing I want to focus on going forward is making real connections. I’m going to comment on more posts that I find interesting and ask people questions about how they’re doing. I want to find authentic engagement, I want people to comment on my posts because they think it’s interesting or they’re giving recommendations.

I recently joined @bloggersliveboston and I can’t wait to start meeting some New England bloggers! I haven’t been able to make it to an event yet but I’m looking forward to making connections really soon!

girl with her back to camera holding sunflowers, in front of sunflower field
They don’t even look real!

Answering Your Questions

And now to your questions! I had a lot of similar themes so I tried to tie them together but if I missed your question, comment below/send my a DM and I’ll answer it!

How I grew my followers?

I’ve tried a few different ways to grow my followers so here’s the rundown:

  • In the Facebook groups I was talking about earlier I have also participated in follow for follow threads. So I would put my link down and then you would either have to follow everyone or pick a certain number of people per thread and follow them. If this is the route you’re going to try to grow followers I would definitely recommend the latter. While following everyone will get you more followers, it’s better long term wise to pick people that have similar interests to you!
  • I’ve also done a few loop giveaways. I did find these to be beneficial as I always gained a ton of followers and only lost a few in the days after the prize was announced. My advice if you’re trying this method: find giveaways that match your/your followers’ interests and make sure the giveaway account unfollows you before the prize is announced. Matching interests is important with the authenticity factor, for example I don’t think too many of my followers would want to win a gift card to Game Stop but they may want to try to win a gift card to Lilly, especially when After Party Sale season comes around (if anyone wants to do this as a giveaway hit me up it sounds like a good idea!). And as for the unfollowing factor, it’s easier for people to unfollow you if all they have to do is go down a list of everyone that participated in a giveaway 😉
  • I have had some luck recently with my new and improved authentic engagement strategy. It is a slower process than the methods above but I’m okay with that! All that’s required for this one: comment on people’s photos! People that you follow and people that you don’t! Think like Oprah: you get a comment, you get a comment, everyone gets a comment. The important thing here is don’t just say “cute” make it meaningful, make it something you would want someone to comment on your page. Although I’m definitely guilty of throwing some “so cute girl”‘s around too.

Advice for new bloggers?

Have fun with it! This is your corner of the internet so share whatever makes you happy! Think of what interests you and share that. I am a firm believer in “your vibe attracts your tribe” so share what makes you smile and you’ll find people with common interests.

Biggest thing I’ve learned?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is definitely apparent throughout this whole article but it’s important so I’ll say it again: stay true to yourself! At the end of the day if you’re happy that’s all that matters! I actually just finished a book that is about social media and staying true to yourself and while the post is still being typed up, it was a good reminder that sometimes social media doesn’t feel social at all.

girl in sunflower field
Cheers to 2 years!

And so you have it! What have you learned from having a blog?

This dress is from Banana a few summers ago so here is a similar style from Tommy Bahama! Unlike mine, it has pockets which always seem like the best thing when it comes to dresses. I tried to find cheaper alternatives but it’s the end of the season so you’re best bet is looking on Poshmark!

xox,

Marissa

College

The Most Important College Lessons

The week before my freshman year I was in the Happiest Place on Earth reading an Odyssey Online article about the most Magical Place on Earth. Yes I was sitting in the Animal Kingdom Lodge looking at giraffes and reading an article about Springfield College that went viral, even among students who hadn’t had orientation yet. I still remember reading that article and being so excited, fast forward four years and I can confirm it is the other most Magical Place on Earth.

But I’m not here to tell you about why you should choose Springfield College. If you wanted that speech you should have come on one of my tours! Instead this is going to be what Springfield College taught me.

Spirit, Mind, and Body: Keep it balanced people

At Springfield College we are always throwing around upside down equilateral triangles. Why? Because all of those traits are equally important and if one outweighs the other, the triangle is just going to fall over.

But even at a school where everyone agrees finding balance is important, it doesn’t always happen. Some Sundays I felt like I had no time to go to church. We had one mass every Sunday at 4pm and some times I just felt like if I did go I would sit there for an hour and make mental checklists of everything I had done and everything I still needed to do. So instead I listened to my “If Not Me” playlist or I found some podcasts like Catholic Stuff you Should Know and The Christian Feminist Podcast.

That being said some semesters I was so on top on my faith. I even became a Eucharistic minister during my time at school. The priest at my school has been so supportive of us. He takes the time after mass to get to know us and he came to a number of my dance shows. He even showed up to baccalaureate with presents for the seniors!

As for the mind aspect, if any category got priority it would be mind. I mean it was college. Keep in mind that while you are in school, your grades are not the most important thing! Focus on learning what you need to but do not get caught up on being the best. Much easier said than done but two years from now, when I’m treating a patient they really aren’t going to ask me what grade I got on the third kinesiology exam.

And body, this one can get swept under the rug too. Between teaching yoga and dancing I am pretty active but I definitely did not hit the gym as much as I have when I wasn’t taking grad classes. But I have a few easy fixes for you.

First, read your notes on the bike. I’m not really into spin but sometimes reading on the bike was really nice. This also works for the elliptical but my eyes cannot focus on a piece of paper when on the elliptical. Another solution: record yourself reading the notes and then listening to them. One of my friends did this and shared her recordings with me and now I could study on the elliptical! Then I started making my own!

DISCLAIMER: In the spirit of keeping your triangle balanced, do not study at the gym unless it’s midterms/finals week! You deserve an hour to yourself!

Your People Will Find You

Senior Suite 406

One of the scariest things about starting at a new school is making new friends. I was in the unofficial Facebook group (that’s where Allison and I kinda met, kinda not, but that’s a story for another time) and Quad (an app for students to meet each other) and I was so worried about finding my people.

Lucky enough for me my best friends were all on my freshman year floor. The girls I lived with for the next three years mainly came from the third floor of Reed Hall. While we met a few more people throughout the year, our friendship started in the common room when we watched Disney movies every Friday or Saturday night.

When I gave tours at school one of the my most frequently asked questions was “What’s been my favorite memory so far?” This was definitely a tough one but I always had to explain that there’s not one thing, but it’s all the little things. One story I shared with people happened my junior year when I was with three of my roommates in our suite. One of our roommates had said, “Maya aren’t you making popcorn?” a little too late and as soon as Maya opened the microwave smoke came out. So the three of them were on top of our counters, opening windows, and fanning the smoke away from the detector because no one wants to be those people. You may be asking what was I doing? I was sitting on the couch, laughing, and filming the whole thing. It’s such a silly thing but in my opinion, those moments mean the most.

You are Your Own Biggest Advocate

Memories, my senior piece and the perfect ending to my time at Springfield College.
Photo is not mine, it was taken by our school’s photographer!

No one is going to look out for you like you can. And no one knows exactly what you need like you do. I’ve learned how to advocate for myself in a number of ways over my time in college.

The night before we graduated a few of us were sitting on the green. And someone was asking the greatest thing you did in the past four years. We went around the circle and when it was my turn I said my greatest accomplishment was taking my mental health seriously. To be completely honest, I’m not sure where that came from because I never really talk about the fact that I go to the counseling center unless someone else brings up that they go or it seems like someone should go and I tell them as a “hey there’s nothing wrong with going”. I’ve never had a problem with asking for help when it comes to getting a tutor so I don’t know why I had viewed counseling as any different. It all goes back to the previous lesson, keep your triangle balanced! If you need to talk to someone there’s no shame in that.

I’ve also learned how to advocate for myself with professors. It may seem scary because they are in a position of power, but no one is going to double check the grading rubric to make sure everything was scored right. If it is that important to you, you need to address it because no one else is going to lose sleep over it. Even if nothing ends up changing, you can go to sleep knowing you did all that you could.

Now I’m not saying your teachers don’t care about you. I’ve been fortunate to have amazing teachers my whole life and teachers really do put their heart and soul into your education. What I am saying is that everyone makes mistakes and if you have questions ask them! There’s no such thing as a stupid question, remember?

Here’s one last story about staying true to yourself. Our dance club has feedback sessions for all of the pieces in the spring show. Hear me out, getting feedback is not bad, it can be a helpful process but in my experiences it can also change the piece in a way that wasn’t the original intention. This is because feedback comes in two forms subjective and objective.

Subjective feedback is personal. It’s the “I appreciated…”, “I wonder what would happen if…”, or “I thought…”. While objective feedback is “You guys weren’t together”, “Your toes weren’t pointed”, “Your legs weren’t straight”.

I personally hate subjective feedback. While I can appreciate hearing about the moments that stuck out to people or the moments that didn’t feel quite right, that doesn’t mean I should change what I have created because someone didn’t get it. The application of feedback is tricky because each person views dance through a different lens, so how can you ever appeal to everyone in the audience? You. Can’t.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “Okay what’s the point?” The point is do not let anyone’s opinion change you if it is not a positive change. If their opinion does not help you grow, let it go. You cannot appeal to everyone, and the only person you need approval from is yourself.

And that’s it! Not all of the lessons I learned at Springfield, I didn’t think you wanted to hear about the convex-concave rules for joint mobilizations, but these are some of the most important lessons. Springfield College has shaped me into the person I am today, and while I will have student loans for years to come, the lessons were priceless.

xox,

Marissa