hey, little sis • lessons to share with younger women

I was so blessed to be the youngest of three — I have two older brothers. Let me just get that out there: I have no biological sisters. My brothers were never really the ‘rough and tough’ on me because they’re 5 and 7 years older than me… for this, I’m thankful too. I’m as girly-girl, non-tomboy as they get. They did teach me many things… like how to teach yourself to not be ticklish, how to have a thick skin and sense of humor, and that I should marry a man who is tall enough to give me hugs like they can (I mean, they’re 6’3″ and 6’6″… c’mon!) I love them dearly.

While I wasn’t given any sisters at birth, I’ve acquired quite a few along the way. The picture that’s at the top of this blog post is a letter that a “little sister” of mine wrote me during some of my dark days. It includes the 10 favorite things she had learned from me (so far). This letter hangs above my desk, so right now as I write I am inspired by her words. I have a friendship bracelet nearby that a very special 14-year-old gave me because she was a little sister to me. Nearly every month, I get Indian food with my mentorship family and it feels like a family reunion of four real sisters.

From foreign exchange sisters to college best friends, girls who are older and girls who are younger, girls I’ve traveled the world or the country with, girls I rarely talk to but shoot me DMs when they need some love or want to give me some… these are the girls that I’m so thankful to call my sisters.

And if you know me, you know… I believe in girl power so much. I think sisterhood can transcend the gals that truly feel like family and embody the greater network of women working together and championing one another. I believe in friendship and mentorships between women. I’m currently reading “Own Your Everyday” by Jordan Lee Dooley (it comes out on May 14, I got early access!) and Jordan discusses the idea of comparison between women and learning to cheer others on rather than compete with them:

“Her success is not your failure.”

Jordan Lee Dooley, Own Your Everyday

I believe that my ‘failures’ can lead to wisdom for someone younger than I. It’s happened to me! I know the women I look up to that I could always lean on to act like bigger sisters have provided me with wisdom, tools, resources, verses, quotes, songs, and advice to propel me through a tough time or encouragement and love to fuel me through the good! My mom, for example, is my biggest cheerleader, advocate, listening ear, constructive criticism provider, and best friend. She leads by example that you can use your experiences to allow younger women to benefit.

So here’s a little letter for the little sisters in your life:

hey, little sis.

There’s so many things I wish I could share with you, but the first is that I hope you always know my heart is open for you… whenever you need me, I will share my words with you and squeeze you so tight.

☆ I am thankful for all that I get to learn from you. This friendship, this sisterhood, goes both ways. I am grateful for the lessons you teach me and ways you remind me of the good.

☆ I wish I could tell you not to worry, but instead I will tell you to have faith always and that fear is a liar. Worry does not add a moment to your life, so do not allow it to hold you down for longer than a moment. Your life WILL work out exactly as it supposed to, even when you believe you can no longer go on. You can, babygirl.

☆ Confidence is sexy. Own it. Own who you are. Thrive in it.

Your purpose begins with being 100 percent you — you showing up every single day in spite of the things you believe disqualify you from trying.

Jordan Lee Dooley, Own Your Everyday

☆ Self love will take you further than being the smartest gal in the room. Self love will take you further than being the fittest gal in the room. Self love will take you further than being the prettiest gal in the room. Self love will take you further than being the funniest gal in the room. Self love makes you untouchable by unkind words, unmet expectations, societal pressures, and bad attitudes. Self love is powerful. When you love yourself, you can CELEBRATE the other women in the room because you recognize that you are also worth celebrating. Master the art, sister friend.

☆ My long-lasting piece of advice for college students applies to you as well. “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” Know your limits — challenge them — but never push yourself past them to the point of harming your mental or physical health.

☆ A good outfit = a good day. Baby girl… wear your favorite outfit on a day when you know you will be tested or are afraid of what may unfold. Remember your power! You are fabulous.

Sometimes it takes more guts to say the kind thing than the opposite. Rise above. This will pay back ten-fold. I have been told by women, “You may not be my favorite person, but I respect you so much for how you handled that situation.” I’m okay with people not liking me. Not everyone is meant to hold hands and sing kumbaya. If my kindness allows people to respect me, that means a lot more than if my words are poison.

☆ Falling in love is amazing. Falling out of love hurts like you’ll never feel whole again. Do not be afraid of love. Love will change you… perhaps for the best or perhaps otherwise. This is a part of your journey.

“I owe it to the person I’m going to be with to keep going and keep fighting for love, because at the end of the day that’s the only thing that will get me closer to my person.”

Katy Bellotte, Thick & Thin Podcast, Ep. 8

☆ Take care of your body: nourish it with exercise, nutrients, and sunshine. Your body is a shell for your soul. Make your soul beautiful, sweet sister, and it will shine right through your skin… but also know that YOUR BODY IS BEAUTIFUL. Never let anyone — girls, guys, the media, society — tell you that your body is anything less than a masterpiece. Treasure your body for what it CAN DO, not what it looks like.

Sis, your body is a temple, not a trophy. And only you get to decide what lens you’ll look through. To be truly free of an unhealthy mindset and harmful behaviors, you have to look at fitness and health as a part of your self-care, not a part of your self-worth.

Jordan Lee Dooley, Own Your Everyday

☆ Candles, fresh sheets, wine, good music, ice cream, gal pals, dance parties, pizza, a good cry, a sweaty workout…. all of these things can solve a lot of problems.

☆ Real talk — don’t settle for less than you deserve. If a man (yes, a man. no boys allowed) finds it in his heart to treat you like the QUEEN you are, that means he is willing to put in the work. Love is work. Marriage (from what people have told me) is work. You deserve to be loved for each and every tiny piece of your beautiful soul, sis. Your tears will not make him better. Your worth is not defined by his opinions.

Common sense told her that begging someone to stay was often the same as begging someone to love you, and she was wise enough to know that never worked.

Nicholas Sparks, Every Breath

You can be sad that it’s ending without being sad it’s not continuing. Cry it out. Then move forward.

Sometimes, choosing to walk away, even if it means breaking your own heart, is the greatest act of self love you have access to.

Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face

☆ Lean on other people. You cannot fight against the world by yourself. Find people that believe in you, inspire you, grow you, support you, challenge you.

Look at your circle. Do you feel you have to change how you look to fit in? Is it a life-giving situation or a constant comparison game, full of drama and one-upping one another? They say you begin to look like the five people you spend the most time with. Who are your top five?”

Jordan Lee Dooley, Own Your Everyday

I looked to amazing women in my life — women that exemplify friendship and sisterhood to share their sentiments. It’s important to know that I am not wise enough as one person to provide you with all that could benefit you. Here’s some of what they shared:

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Loving yourself is one of the most important things you’ll ever do.

High school and college are each only 4 years of your life. You will move on to bigger and better things, so don’t stress the things you can’t control.

If you are going to do something with a guy, make sure you are comfortable and feel safe.

You are more than the narrative life gave you. You get to decide what defines you, nothing else.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Growth doesn’t come from comfort zones and it definitely doesn’t come from second guessing yourself.

Don’t dress up for a boy who wouldn’t dress up for you.

I spent so much time worrying about what everyone thought of me. Fuck everyone that thinks I’m not enough me. There’s only one me. There’s only one you, little sis. Don’t change yourself to fit in.

Disconnect and live your life.

Saying no to obligations doesn’t mean you’re missing out. It allows you to focus on what’s really important in your life.

Always be 100% honest with yourself. Can you really afford that thing? Save money for the important things.

Surround yourself with good people. It’s important to surround yourself with good people — people that are supportive and life-giving. Also understand that it’s okay to remove yourself from toxic friendships. Sometimes God puts people in our lives for only a temporary amount of time and that’s okay.

Buy generic brand drugs. They work the same and save you money. Don’t buy generic brand condoms.

Some people won’t like you, no matter how hard you try. Put that effort in to bettering yourself and growing prosperous relationships.

Don’t sleep in! Get up, go eat breakfast outside, go for a bike ride with friends, watch your favorite show… you’ll feel better the rest of the day and probably set up good habits for life.

Take some time to act your age.

Get to know your own body before anyone else’s. Your thoughts, emotions, cycle, hormones, etc. Knowing yourself is so important.

Plans change. This isn’t a bad thing, just a different path. So many things will happen in your lifetime that will change the course of your life in the best way. You will lose friends, and you will gain friends. You will lose opportunities, and you will gain them. So many things in your life are subject to change so don’t expect everything to happen in the fashion you expect it to. You’ll be happier for it.

Wearing makeup is only to make YOU feel good, NOT for anyone else. It’s never required!

Don’t measure your successes based on the girl next to you. We all move at our own pace!

Loyalty is important.

Have courage and be kind. It’s amazing what unfolds. 

So, there ya have it little sister. I can’t say all the words I could hope to share with you. I just hope you know that you are loved and that you have a network of sisters who hope for your life to be even more than you can possibly imagine… and when it seems like you can’t go on, I am here.

I love you.

always,

alex.

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If you feel so inclined, share this with someone you view as a little sister.

and as always, I’m on instagram @alexfarbie.

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thank u, next… i’m so f’ing grateful for this album.

If you haven’t listened to Ariana Grande’s latest album, titled “thank u, next”… stop right there. Direct yourself to Spotify or Apple Music and take a listen. For your convenience, I have included the lyrics/videos (not all videos have been released) to all the songs on this album just below.

Honestly, I am writing this blog solely because the album has been on repeat in my head since I listened to it on February 8th. I find it relatable, inspiring, and thought-provoking… not to mention it is full of total bops. I’m writing this so maybe I can stop bugging my friends and roommates about all the intricacies of this album and my personal feelings in regards to each song.

Like all of us, Ariana has been through some sh**. We can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to go through hard things while continuing to be in the spotlight day after day. She highlights this concept in her song, ‘fake smile.’ Ariana’s concert was the location of a terrorist attack, her former beau Mac Miller passed away, and her engagement failed. She channeled so many feelings into her words on this album, and it’s taken me several days and listening to each song probably twenty times to figure out my thoughts from these incredible works.

I’ve been through some sh** myself, and quite honestly I’m here for Ariana’s comeback. Of course, the highlighted song of the album (and arguably the most popular) is ‘thank u, next.’ As we approach Valentine’s Day, I’m constantly reminded of my relationship status. While I realize the necessity of my status and am secure in my current position, the influx of romantic reminders isn’t exactly a mood-booster, even for a hopeless romantic person like me who truly loves love. Ariana states her gratefulness for her past, offers thanks, and moves forward with open arms for whatever comes next. I think that in this season of singleness, I am empowered by her ability to take a hard season of life and turn it into a forward-thinking, grateful anthem that women can both resonate with and dance to in the club. (yes, I mean me.)

Since the release on February 8, my favorite is probably ‘NASA‘ because this song, while ridiculously catchy, is focused on me time, and the idea that even people in relationships need space. her words are, “It ain’t nothing wrong with saying I need me time.” Heck yeah, girlfriend. Self-care is so important, and taking time to just have some space is important. I honestly think I haven’t valued this concept enough in my life, and it’s a great reminder that you are a star, you are your own universe, and you deserve the space you want or need.

A song that strikes an emotional chord with me is ‘ghostin.’ This song discusses Ariana’s grief. I think that anyone going through a breakup or death of a loved one experiences grief and it’s important to let yourself grieve and not cover it up for other people, even those closest to you. Cry it out, sis. It’s a heartbreaking image to hear her describe crying herself to sleep while sleeping next to someone else. Takeaways: feel your feeling when you need to feel them, and heal for as long as it takes.

The song ‘in my head‘ also hit me like a ton of bricks. The intro of the song states, “Here’s the thing: you’re in love with a version of a person that you’ve created in your head, that you are trying to but cannot fix. Uh, the only person you can fix is yourself.” oof. This song is talking about the versions of other people we gather in our heads that is perhaps a figment of our imagination, and invention of our own and not true to another’s true self. This song serves as a good reminder to take off the rose colored glasses.

7 rings‘ focuses on a major positive in Ariana’s life… her gal pals. I always say that girl power is the strongest force in the world. Ariana, in the form of money and being able to purchase all of her favorite things, showcases her hard work. The reason for the title is that she decided to buy matching diamond rings for her best friends rather than disregard her own diamond. Atta girl, Ari. Girl power. Treat yourself, treat your gals, be proud of your accomplishments.

While I could write sentiments about each song, there are some songs with perhaps less positive vibes to pull from, even though they’re still phenomenal. I will, however, offer perhaps a little bit sassier reflection on her final song, ‘break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.‘ This song is perhaps the song with the greatest backlash online, stating that this is a ‘toxic’ song encouraging bad behavior coming from a place of women against women instead of women empowering women. I agree and would never put myself in that position… However, I will definitely say that if all it takes for your man to be unfaithful is another woman saying “I’m bored,” then you need turn and run, sister. He isn’t worth your time.

So thank u… next album please. This album seemed to be released exactly when I needed it and inspired me to dance on my way to class, understand I’m not alone, and to get writing.

Maybe this blog post wasn’t as relatable as some others, or even as inspiring, but this blog post summarizes my recent thoughts and the constant stream of Ariana Grande from my phone! xoxo

always,

Alex

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to senior girls: my post-freshman year thoughts

My freshman year is coming to an end, and I’ve realized that nearly everything I thought about college was wrong.

Thank goodness.

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When I was planning for college, I thought I had everything figured out. I’d get the perfect roommate, the perfect dorm furniture and pinterest-inspired everything and it would all look like a magazine. I thought I’d be poor and hungry, struggling to get by. I thought my friends I met the first day would become my best friends forever. Honestly, a boyfriend was the furthest thing from my mind back then. I thought that the food options would lead me to a bagel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I thought I’d have no time between classes and organizations. I thought I would struggle to find out where I fit in and if I could even find organizations for my interests and hobbies and ideals. I thought that classes would be boring until I “got into” my major. I thought it would be scary.

I was wrong.

My room is a mess. It never had a color scheme; I never take my trash out until it’s nearly flowing onto my carpet. I have clothes on every surface. But it’s home. This little dorm room has become my bedroom, kitchen, study room, dance floor… you name it. It’s not pretty, but it’s mine.

I thought my roommate would be my best friend forever, but I live alone now. We both changed and found happiness in other ways, people, and spaces. But that’s okay. College is about growth, finding yourself, and learning how to make tough decisions that benefit you. Having a roommate first semester was awesome, though, and I definitely love the memories we shared during that time.

I thought I’d constantly be worrying about paying for fun things or how to get by without online shopping. (gasp!) But I got a job. It’s not glamorous, but I learn from it. And I have awesome coworkers. I make it work with my schedule, and I pay for my own things. “Adulting” is a real thing, folks.

The people I met the first day are not my friends today. They are now acquaintances, or floor-mates, but my best friends are the ones that came easily and stayed. They appreciate me for me. Dance parties, pizza rolls, too many clothes… all of it. (And I can happily add, most of them will be living with me next year!) These people have truly lifted me up and made me a better person.

If you would have told me, at this time last year, that I’d have a boyfriend right now… I probably would have laughed in your face. But he’s great, makes me laugh, and has been an awesome addition to my freshman year.

I was so scared, as a picky eater, that I’d have nothing to eat. Instead, the food options feel like the refrigerator door. You just have to open it up, dig around, and mix and match combinations. When in doubt, go off campus. 🙂

I was worried about time management. As an organizer by nature, I took the time to color code my schedule and map out all the buildings. What I didn’t realize is that it takes about 3 minutes to walk to that building, or 7 for that one, or 5 for that one. It’s now down to a science. I didn’t realize that an hour for lunch is the perfect amount of time to meet up with a friend and talk about life. I didn’t realize that 12am is the perfect bed time. (Well, maybe not, but we can try.)

I thought I would struggle to fit in and become a part of something that I enjoyed and that benefitted me personally. Instead, I’ve become so involved across campus and I couldn’t be happier. Whether its honors, Students’ Association, an awesome late-night intramural volleyball team, political activism, dance club, major-specific clubs… it’s nearly impossible to feel lost. Your hobbies and ideals and dreams are shared by others, I promise.

I honestly dreaded any and all of my general education credits. I thought that I would be bored out of my mind or challenged extremely. Instead, one of my favorite classes was a Human Geography class. Of course, my math and science requirements have been less exhilarating, but I’ve made friends in the classes that make them much more enjoyable. However, the classes that are in my major are wonderful and applicable. It’s an awesome feeling to be learning about something that you’re passionate enough about to dedicate your life to.

I thought it would be scary, and you probably do too.

Let me tell you this: you are ready to conquer the world, and this is your first step. It can be scary, but it is so exciting and so worth it. You are at a crossroads. You are ready to choose your path and grow tremendously. I’m excited for you.

Get ready, because it’s coming so much sooner than you know it. And then you’ll blink and you’ll be in my shoes. This year has flown by, but thankfully I have a million memories to occupy my thoughts as I wait until fall to make more here at this university that has become home.

You have about 4 months until you begin..get ready to be wrong.

I was, and I’m so glad that was the case.

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I hope that this brings you peace of mind, excitement, and hope.

 

 

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my post-graduation hair cut

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I wasn’t a person who loved high school, despite the fact that I immersed myself in fun activities, loved my job, and had enough good times to keep me upbeat for the most part.. I wasn’t satisfied. I wasn’t satisfied with mediocre, or sometimes happy, or attempting to fit the status quo, or feeling lonely, or any of that. I was satisfied with one thing, however… my hair.

Today, I posted a selfie. (yeah, I know.) In the photo, I was surprised to see that my hair looked so long. I cut my hair, about 8 inches, just a couple of weeks after graduation, ridding myself of some weight I had been carrying around… both literally and figuratively. I loved it. I loved the freedom and maturity I felt with it lightly dancing on my collarbone. I loved my tiny little pigtails that I wore while hiking and I loved throwing on my hat and letting my hair do whatever it pleased underneath. Some people told me, “You were prettier with long hair.” or “I miss your long hair!” or “How could you get rid of all that beautiful hair?” But I had to. It was my “big jump” into adult life (or so I thought) and leaving behind my security blanket of hair was a simple part of the transition.

Recently, I’ve been growing my hair back out.. with hair that grows relatively quickly, it has slowly crept towards the length it was back in high school. I can now do the things I missed doing: messy buns, a simple braid, et cetera. But as I was looking at myself, with hair that feels and looks so long to me now… I flashed back to high school, where the end of my hair was much closer to my belly button than my collarbone. I remember a rumor that had been started about me once… that I had gotten extensions. I remember being so bothered by this, the fact that someone had the time of day to think of such ridiculousness… I remember being confused as to why anyone would care. I remember being asked, “Why did you get extensions?” I remember thinking that my hair had been this long for a long time but NOW people are noticing because of a rumor that this hair is fake? I remember being hurt. That’s a feeling I remember a lot from high school.

This rumor, along with so many others, plagued me during high school. But the purpose of this blog is not to hate on high school or complain about my experience. Instead, I have risen from the ashes… or the hair that scatters on the floor post-haircut. I have grown miraculously since graduation. The weight I carried around wasn’t just from my abundance of hair, but it was from all the negativity in my life. As I grow my hair longer and longer, I can’t help but feel a bit sad that I look more similar to the girl I was in high school. But that’s another thing you learn in college: appearances mean nothing. I am NOT the girl I was in high school. I am NOT the girl that is defined by others. I am NOT hurt, or lonely, or satisfied with mediocrity.

I am happy, healthy, changed, and love myself more than I have ever before. And today… I had a good hair day. {More than that, however, I had a good day. I’ve had a seriously fantastic string of good days lately.}

To the girls that are considering the post-graduation chop in a few months: hair is hair is hair, no matter what the length. YOU are the one who will continually surprise yourself with personal growth!

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All I Ever Wanted.

Tonight, I cried. Not only during Mockingjay Part Two… but afterwards, when a girl that I view as a “little sister” and friend gave me a letter, and I took it home to read it.

I open the letter, and I see that it contains two pages. I start to read, and then I come across the words, “This week in Language Arts we got an assignment. The assignment was to write a paragraph about someone in our life who is our role model. I chose you!”

As I finished the letter, I couldn’t wait to flip to the other page. As I read the words, a huge smile spread across my face. My favorite saying to express this feeling is “my heart is so full.” That’s exactly the feeling. Not only am I so utterly proud of this girl and her attitude towards life, challenges and all, but I am so proud to have been a part of her life. She wrote that “Alex taught me that I shouldn’t let what other people think of me, affect how I think of myself,” and that is how I know that I succeeded. In junior high, and high school, it is so easy to believe what others think as truth. I just want her to know how beautiful she is, how smart she is, how talented she is, and how kind she is, and to remember that no one can change her life, and her opinion of herself, but her.

This feeling, this pride beyond belief and happiness beyond words, is all I ever wanted. The words “role model” are probably some of my favorites, because I truly believe you are shaped by your environment and the choices you make. When I was selected for leadership roles, I always loved the opportunity to use my position to impact girls and teenagers and to make them smile. Being a girl is hard sometimes, and it’s nice to look up and see that someone a few years ahead of you seems to have it going in the right direction.

In high school, I wasn’t the homecoming queen, or the star athlete, or the top of my class, or even the nicest. However, I made many decisions that I am proud of. I chose to work hard at school, I chose not to party, I chose to prioritize, I chose to use my voice, I chose to make a difference, and I chose to move on from the little things.

So, no, I wasn’t the prettiest or smartest or best. What I am, I now know, is a role model… and that is all I ever wanted.

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P.S. I love you, Emma. I am so proud of the young woman you have become. I am proud to have been your role model.