Traveling with Anxiety

Lil disclaimer to get us started:  Gonna get incredibly real with y’all in this post so beware.  Anxiety is something I NEVER talk about on a public platform because I know there are people much much worse off than me so I strongly avoid complaining about it openly.  

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Sorrento, Italy

Anyone even remotely close to me knows that I have always struggled with anxiety.  You name it and it probably makes me anxious.  Social events, making big purchases, going to work, leaving the house, yep, yep, yep, and yep.  I’ve ruined experiences for myself and relationships with others as a result of this issue and I’ve learned A LOT about myself and how to cope through these kinds of challenges.  I’m kind of granola (aka scaredy cat) when it comes to medicating and refuse to put anything stronger than ibuprofen and a little caffeine in my body so the only option I’m left with is teaching myself to cope the best way I know how (though if you are someone who needs to medicate more power to ya- no judgment).

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Charleston, SC

I have learned that bottling up how anxious I am feeling does nothing but hurt myself (and others if they are affected by it without knowing the reason) so in recent years I have learned to be a little more open about how I’m feeling and fortunately, the people who matter to me have continued to accept me for I am and I am forever thankful for those people!

Now that I’ve clued a few more important people in my life into this issue, a couple of them have asked me how I’ve stayed so calm with all of our travels (past and upcoming) and the answer is easy – I haven’t!

2018 was a year FULL of traveling!  Stephen lived in Washington, DC for three months, we made several trips to Charleston, honeymooned in a three-stop Italy trip, road tripped to Manhattan with some friends, ate our hearts out (literally) in Nashville, and rang in the new year in Paris just to name a few!  Our 2019 travel plans so far include Chicago, NYC, Iceland, London, Amsterdam, and Greece and I am trying to convince Stephen to add more to the list.  He doesn’t start his job until September and we are trying to fit as much travel as possible in while his schedule is still moderately flexible.

 

One of the reasons we’ve been able to fit so much in so little time is that Stephen and I are absolute pros at hitting the ground running as soon as we reach a destination and not stopping til we’re on the plane home – we are exceptionally good at fitting in a LOT in just a LITTLE time.  Fortunately for me, oftentimes we are so busy trying to fit so much in that I am kept TOO busy to be alone with my thoughts and get nervous.  We approach each trip as if it will be the last opportunity we’ll ever have to go there (which, let’s be honest, it very well could be!) and spend hours researching the must-do’s of each destination then pack our trips full from sun-up to sun-down each day!  Anyone else struggling with anxiety can probably relate to the fact that staying super busy is a great way to keep those negative feelings at bay.

 

There are some aspects of traveling where anxiety just can’t be avoided.  When we fly I usually spend the night before or the morning of heaving into a toilet (told you we’d be getting real here!);  I don’t mind flying really, but get terrified of the unknown so every time we go somewhere I’ve never been (especially if there’s a language barrier) I worry worry worry about all that I don’t know.  Are we prepared enough?  Do we have enough money?  What if one of us gets sick or hurt?  What if I can’t find anything to eat?  How are we going to communicate?  Questions galore race through my head and I hate not having the answers.  I am pretty largely in charge of planning when we travel (Stephen really prefers to fly by the seat of his pants which obviously doesn’t mesh well with an anxious person- love you babe 🙂 ) so I feel completely responsible for everything that happens when we travel and am terrified that I will have forgotten something important; wracking my brain for potential mistakes I’ve made takes off and gets out of hand very quickly!

Once we’re at our destination I get anxious before every mealtime; I am an embarrassingly picky eater and I also get painstakingly terrified when I don’t know the layout of a restaurant (Do we wait to be seated?  Do we go up and order?  Do we pay here or at the counter?  Sounds kind of amusing but these are actually REALLY upsetting questions for me and I really hate not knowing what I’m supposed to be doing- maybe it comes from working in the service industry for four years and being used to knowing these things?  Who knows!  Anxiety knows no limits.).  One time in Rome Stephen and I tried to split a pizza and got yelled at in Italian!  You can imagine it just about sent me into an anxiety-ridden stupor when we were there (Note to all those thinking about visiting Italy: if you’re sitting at a restaurant you better be ordering your own entrée if you don’t want to get yelled at!).  We’ve also been yelled at in French while at a Parisian restaurant, but that’s a longer story.  These are the kinds of things that usually do me in.  I am a Type A rule-follower and anything less than following the rules and the status quo is honestly debilitating for me; I basically lose the ability to talk or listen to others because I am sitting there, lost in my thoughts, regretting my actions, wondering how I could have done things differently to avoid this situation.

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Rome, Italy

It sucked.  There I was, sitting in one of the most amazing cities in the world, and I was completely blind to it because something had happened where honestly, the person yelling at us probably went about his day and didn’t think twice about that interaction.  That’s just it though, we can’t choose what makes us anxious and anxiety has no rhyme or reason.

So how did I get past it?  Like I said earlier, I really didn’t.  If I’m being honest I still really cringe about it and if I think hard enough about it I can sort of shut down because I feel so icky about the interaction.  You can’t just turn anxiety off.  What I have learned (and am still actively learning to do) is suppress it the best I can by being open about what I’m feeling and after acknowledging it, focusing on how lucky I am to be where I am.   I know how disappointed I would be with myself if I realized it was time to leave our destination and all I had been able to focus on was how anxious I was feeling.  I know how guilty I would feel if I hadn’t been fully present with Stephen in these places that we may never get a chance to return to.  I have to remind myself to stay focused on the many many positive and exciting things happening all around me when we are traveling.

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Paris, France

It is work…hard work at that. But traveling is a priority for us in this season of our lives.  It is a top priority for us.  Our adventures fuel us as a couple, but to be able to fuel us I first need to fuel myself.

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Sorrento, Italy

The fact of the matter is it is OKAY to feel anxious;  if it wasn’t I would be in a really rough place because the reality is I will probably never not be an anxious person – it just is what it is.  Traveling will probably never be in my “comfort zone.”  It’s not comfortable!  It’s scary and exciting and exhilarating and oftentimes, yes, uncomfortable.  But it is important to us.  Really, really important to us.  And guess what?  I have yet to regret a single adventure we’ve been on.  Every time we travel (internationally or not) my heart comes back feeling ten times more full than it was when we left.  Despite being uncomfortable at times, Stephen and I have incredible amounts of fun when we travel and it has brought us closer than ever because of the communication and compromise we’ve had to learn when traveling (his patience and understanding have been a help too!).

The more I force myself to face my anxieties and kick myself out of my own comfort zone, the easier it is to do so.  I acknowledge that I am nervous and then I make myself move on and focus on what we’re doing and where we are; acknowledging it is half the battle.  ‘Anxious’ is not a mindset; if it was, it would be possible to change.  ‘Strong’ and ‘brave’ are mindsets that I choose to utilize in my life and in my travels and it is through this that I am able to cope and why I will be able to continue to travel and enjoy doing so.

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Gonna end this by saying I consider myself lucky that despite never being able to completely get rid of my anxiety, through a lot of hard work (which continues every. single. day.) I am able to get past it in order to enjoy things far beyond my normal comfort zone and I know that many people would not be able to say the same.  I encourage everyone to be open with themselves and others about any mental health struggles they may have and not to hesitate getting help if needed.  We aren’t going to end the stigma by staying silent 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Sydney

Meet the Maids: Carly

Stephen and I have one priority for our wedding day: celebrate with our family and closest friends.  We are taking great care of tending to our guest list and keeping it on the smaller side so that everyone who attends can feel truly celebrated with us.  Of course, this applies to the friends who will be standing up at the altar with us as well! I’ve decided to do a Meet the Maids series on the blog to introduce you to the most special ladies in my life!

First, I’d like you to meet Carly! She is one of my oldest (and very best) friends! We first met in 2010 when we worked at Sweet Tomatoes and despite being total opposites, our friendship has withstood the test of time! She is hands down one of the most trustworthy people I know and I can always count on her for anything!  Plus, she is a fellow NC State grad!  When the owner of our wedding venue was discussing the timeline of our reception with us, he asked me which of my bridesmaids could get the party started best; Stephen and I immediately turned to each other and said, “CARLY!”  So I can’t wait for our guests to be introduced to her first at the reception!  She has such a fun-loving heart and is always trying to get this introvert to venture out of my comfort zone and try new and amazing things! (And I only chicken out about half the time 🙂 )

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The amazing thing about Carly is that she simply can’t have too many friends; once you meet her, she will have your back forever!  She is definitely one of the most loyal people I have ever met.  In fact, Stephen called her the night he was going to propose and asked that she be at the dinner celebration that night and despite the fact that she had plans, she rearranged them just so she could celebrate with us which will always mean the world to me!

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I am sooo lucky to have Carly in my life and so glad she agreed to stand next to me on my big day!  This description does not even do her justice so I can’t wait for our guests to meet her on the big day!

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So glad she was able to come with me the day I bought my wedding dress!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sydney

Why We’ll Never Go to a Jewelry Store Chain Again

I will forever wish I had been more informed about jewelry stores prior to shopping for my wedding bands so hopefully this post will help at least one other person out!

When Stephen decided it was time to start shopping for my engagement ring, he knew it was the smart thing to do to get quotes from multiple jewelry stores before deciding where he wanted to make his investment.  He knew he wanted to use a diamond that belonged to my mom and that he wanted to have my ring custom-made based on several pictures he had pulled from my Pinterest.  He went to several chains and had similar experiences at all of them, but there was one store in particular (a chain based in NC) that I had told him I would like my ring to come from.  While I won’t name the store, I’ll tell you that these stores are fabulous and shiny and there is a fancy stigma that goes along with saying your engagement ring came from one of their locations.

When Stephen went in, the associate that was working with him continuously tried to convince him that what he was asking them to create is not what I wanted and that he should trade my mom’s diamond in for a bigger one and pick a totally different style of ring that I would like better…as if they knew what I wanted better than Stephen did!

Stephen left the store feeling way more stressed out and less excited than he had felt walking in and decided to try another store — a small-town family run store in downtown Apex.

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When Stephen walked into Holland’s Jewelers off Salem Street, he was immediately greeted with a bunch of smiling faces of people eager and willing to help him.  They were thrilled at the idea of using a family heirloom to create a custom ring.  They worked with him until he was completely satisfied and gave him a fair price.  The ring they created together was absolutely gorgeous!

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Love this shot Krista from Six Foot Photography got of my ring during our mini-engagement session!

Here’s where I have to admit something to you: I am totally enamored by shiny, fancy things.  When it came time to shop for my wedding band, Stephen had not told me of the experience he had at the fancy popular store which shall not be named here, and I wanted the stigma of owning a piece of jewelry from that store and the ring box that went with it (totally vain, I know, but I’ve learned my lesson!).  Despite the fact that I felt guilty about not returning to the place that had created my engagement ring, I went against my instincts and grabbed one of my bridesmaids and headed into one of their popular Raleigh locations during their semi-annual sale.

I don’t want to undermine my experience there in any way that is not necessary — the staff that greeted us was friendly and an associate was with us quickly and was very patient with us as we looked at wedding rings.   When I took off my engagement ring to start trying wedding bands on, though, he picked it up and started criticizing how it was made.  He told me that since I had it made somewhere other than their store, it was flimsy and I really shouldn’t even be wearing my engagement ring regularly (“It’s like you’re wearing a lace dress while mowing the lawn,” he said).   As if that’s what every girl wants to hear about her most prized possession!  Despite the fact that our associate had made me feel bad about myself, I picked out a wedding ring and despite the fact that it was 1.5 times what we had budgeted for even with their huge sale, I purchased the ring.  They fitted it for free but I didn’t even get the fancy ring box I had been all excited about.

Stephen told me about his experience there when I got home that day and vented to him about how I had made this huge investment with the store and yet somehow left feeling like they felt like they had done me some huge favor, and that I should feel honored to have purchased something from their store.  I literally felt like “just another sale” and after spending that much money, that is not how anyone should feel!

I lost several nights’ sleep over my purchase and wished so desperately I hadn’t had the ring fitted so that I could return it (I am admittedly petty and did not want something as precious as my main wedding band to have come from what I viewed as such a negative experience).  After a lot of conversation with Stephen, we decided to go back to Holland’s and discuss the ring situation with them and see if they had any insight!

I felt right back at home when we walked back in there; I seriously cannot explain how friendly and nice the entire staff is.  Initially I wanted to trade in the ring I had already purchased and purchase a thicker band (which would have been more money for Holland’s) but they suggested if I wanted to do something different, I should consider using the ring I had already purchased and having another one custom-made to match it and then have the three welded together in a set after the wedding, which is the path I ended up taking!

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I LOVE how all three rings look together! The ring on the bottom is the one I had made at Holland’s — I wanted this to be my “official” wedding band.

They custom-made me a ring to match the one I already had using the same materials and the same carat weight.  Oh and the ring they were making me? It cost less than half of what I paid at the other store.

While I was there I decided to have my “flimsy” ring inspected; my engagement ring was fine but upon inspection of the wedding band I had already purchased, a majority of the diamonds were loose. After I had just been lectured about how flimsy my own ring was!  PLUS when I walked away from Holland’s with my brand new ring, they gave me my very own fancy ring box 🙂 It was meant to be.

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I don’t mean to just spend this whole post just trashing the other store, but I am a firm believer that everyone should have nothing less than an amazing experience when purchasing engagement/wedding rings and advise everyone to be careful in what store they choose to shop at.  I desperately wish I had gotten some insight about the first store before making that huge of an investment there! Not one of my finer financial moments, I’ll admit.

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Love this Mrs. box my mom got me for my birthday!

You never know though!  Maybe the store I had a negative experience at is the perfect store for you! But you won’t know until you do your research!

For us personally, we will be going to Holland’s for all of our jewelry needs for years to come! I have yet to have anything but an amazing experience with them and if you live in the Triangle area, I highly recommend you check them out!

If you have any questions about ring shopping, please let me know! Heaven knows I have a lot of experience at this point!

Thanks for stopping by!

-Sydney

 

 

 

Our Engagement Photos!

We have officially been engaged for one year as of June 30th! It has been a wild ride for sure, but we have loved every minute of it. I am always amazed at the growth Stephen and I make every day as we prepare for this wedding and our marriage!

In honor of 365 days of being engaged, I wanted to share our engagement photos on here in case you hadn’t seen them!  Our amazing wedding photographer Amber with Six Foot Photography had the SWEETEST little baby in April so she was on maternity leave when we took our pictures.  Lucky for us, this meant my Matron of Honor, Krista, got to take our photos instead!

We got to return to our very favorite place (NC State’s campus) for these pictures and I think Krista captured us and how much we love that place perfectly 🙂 We were even featured on the Six Foot Photography Blog here!

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We had a blast taking these photos and will cherish them forever!

Thanks for stopping by!

-Sydney

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I Said Yes to the Dress..And You Can Too!

Wedding dress shopping was such an amazing experience! Everything that could go RIGHT did, and I was surrounded by some of my favorite people in the process! For months, I had THE dress I just knew I was going to buy in mind and picked the bridal boutique we went to based on the fact that I knew they had my dress in stock!  We went to New York Bride & Groom of Raleigh and had an AMAZING experience!  I was so lucky because I was able to bring four of my bridesmaids (who didn’t know they were bridesmaids at the time!), my mom, and my Mimi with me to shop for wedding gowns.  I knew I could fully trust all six of the ladies I brought with me to be honest (without being mean!), be supportive, and be genuinely happy for me on such a fun day.  I can’t recommend making sure whoever you bring with you to try on dresses fits that exact same bill because it made a world of difference!  I loved having them there for support (soooo important) and having zero concern that any of them would hurt my feelings.

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When you walk into the salon, you enter into a crisp, clean and open salon with lots of modern furniture with pearlescent white finishes — you instantly feel glamorous as soon as you walk through those doors (and let’s be honest — every bride should feel glamorous when trying on wedding dresses!).  You don’t need an appointment and I was a little worried about a wait since we were just walking in to the salon with seven people, but we were immediately greeted with smiling faces and they were able to accommodate us right away.  We got our own (massive) dressing room, put our stuff down, and started the search for my dress!  Of course, everything I read said that you should NEVER try on just one dress, so my group helped me pick out three other dresses to try on in addition to the one I had pretty much already decided on.

On our way back to the dressing room, one dress in particular caught my Matron of Honor’s eye.  She held it up for me and I took one look at it and said, “Nope!”  It was the total opposite of what I wanted in a dress and not only did not fit any of the requirements I had for potential dresses, but it had characteristics I specifically DIDN’T want! But something about that dress made my MOH push me to at least try it on and as you may have guessed, I ended up falling in love with it!

I am very much the type of person who likes to plan way ahead and then stick very strictly to that plan, so the fact that I was loving a dress that wasn’t in my plans was very stressful for me!  I so desperately wanted to want my original dress, but my mind kept returning to the new one.  It was comfortable, I felt good in it, and I didn’t ever want to take it off! I put the dress on for a second time, put my wedding shoes and veil on, and stepped back in front of the mirror and that was it! I knew for sure I had found my dress.  I haven’t stopped thinking about it since!

To make it even more amazing, when I told our consultant that I had picked my dress, she checked the tag and informed us it was 50% off! We ended up spending less than half of our original budget and my mom (who is THE BEST) surprised me and paid for the dress for me (insert many, many happy tears here)!

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I don’t want to give too much about the dress away (pretty sure Stephen is one of the few people who actually reads here for the time being lol), but I CAN say it perfectly encompasses the Southern look I was looking for and looks amazing with my Matron of Honor’s (GORGEOUS) veil which I will be borrowing for my wedding day!

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This was our dressing room! It was so spacious and perfect for all 7 of us to hang out in!

As AMAZING as my experience was, there are a few things I wish I had known about wedding dress shopping before I went!

Here are a few tips for any brides planning on going wedding dress shopping soon!

  • Get a little dolled up! I wish I had put more effort into my appearance (and maybe have gotten a tan?) before I went shopping! You want to feel your absolute best when picking the most beautiful article of clothing you will ever wear! Plus, if you aren’t feeling confident (and it’s easy not to — those fluorescent lights can be harsh in a lot of salons!), it can skew the way you see yourself in the dresses!
  • Do your research and read reviews about the bridal salons you are considering shopping at.  The demeanor of our consultants made ALL the difference when I went shopping! I am generally pretty self-conscious and didn’t want to be made to feel like being there was a burden to them but everyone we interacted with was so helpful, happy, and supportive!  Plus, it was through our research that we discovered that we did not need an appointment to go shopping!
  • If you already have any accessories you know you’ll be wearing on your wedding day (I was a rule-breaker and already had both my veil and my shoes!), bring them! This way you can see how they look with your dress.
  • Wear appropriate under garments! 🙂
  • LISTEN to your consultant — they usually have lots of experience and can offer some pretty sound advice!
  • Consider going shopping on a weekday afternoon to avoid crowds — that’s what we did and I’m so glad!
  • GO WITH YOUR INSTINCTS! If your gut is telling you something, listen!

Hopefully something from that list was helpful to any brides seeking advice! Wedding dress shopping should NOT be stressful, and I hope anyone who goes has as amazing a time as I did!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sydney