When “Near Wins” Feel Like No Wins

Well, long time no see. The past six months have been the hardest in my life. And while my insane hours and financial stress and physical exhaustion obviously have a huge part to play in that statement, the root of my struggle is a lot deeper than those surface triggers. It turns out, I’m not good at something and it’s really hard to stomach.

To provide some context, I’ll get on my high horse really quickly and explain that I am extremely goal-oriented. I thrive on receiving a challenge and crossing it off my to-do list in record time. Senior year, I took a chance and accepted my current job even though it wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned for myself- but it provided a foundational experience I would need to succeed in my future plans to advocate for educator and students. Even when running on fumes the first few weeks into training, I was mobilized by the excitement of receiving challenges and solving them as soon as I could. After all, up to that point I had never been hung up on ‘mastering’ something for very long. Well, if you ever want a check on your ego, take a high-stakes job that spells the words urgency and feedback with all caps.

At my current school, we have established a “near win” culture in which we can celebrate the near win but must thrive on always finding a component upon which to improve. Brilliant in theory and a great way to push performance from good to great. But, damn, it sure is hard to get used to. When I was first receiving feedback, I felt like I had been metaphorically reduced to a broken cog, doing nothing but disabling the wheel. I thought, “if I’m so bad at this, I need to go. I need to go do something I’m good at. It’s not fair to the stakeholders in this. They don’t have time to wait for me to get better and I don’t have the stamina to make all these gains this quickly.” I felt targeted and worthless. It didn’t feel like “near wins”- I wasn’t winning anything at all.

Fast forward a bit and I’ve grown- if not in strides towards mastery of my craft then at least in strides towards my mastery of openness. I’ve come to understand that the feedback comes from a place of caring and investment; my supervisor and my boss are invested in my success because they are invested in the success of the school as a whole. It took what felt like every ounce of my pride but I have arrived at a place of balance with my work life. I am far from a finished product, but in the re-birth of this blog as a resource for others, I wanted to impart some of the wisdom I have gathered during my “baptism by fire”.

  • Practice a 24-hour rule: when something disappointing/frustrating/hurtful happens in any aspect of your life, take 24 hours to emotionally process it. That includes the poker-face-still-at-work stage, the hysterically-crying-into-your-steering-wheel stage, the fury-driven-i’ll-show-them stage, etc.
  • Keep the venting off premises: And I extend this to mean, talk about your feelings to people that do not share your work environment. Everyone rejoices in shared struggle, but complaining or venting to co-workers, even when they may agree with you, only brings down the morale of the room. Everyone has stress at work, so drive home, pour a glass of wine, and let your best friend hear about it over Skype.
  • Articulate your concerns to a mentor first: There are cases where you are right to feel frustrated and sometimes those cases are affecting your performance to the point that you need to speak to your superior about it. The most helpful thing I have done this year is to practice articulating my concerns to someone who knows how the world turns. My mother is a self-made business aficionado and after she has listened to me shed a tear or 200, she will tell me what I should change in the way I professionally deliver my thoughts. I have felt so confident and calm going into hard conversations at work because I was able to articulate my concerns to highlight my frustrations without pointing the finger or coming off ill-aligned with the company’s values.



As twentyeverything’s, we have so much more to learn and that path will not always be paved. Let’s face it: we aren’t always good at this…..yet.

– Jess

Twenty and Thrive(ing)

Happy Sunday beautiful readers!

Hungry and broke? I have the solution for you!

As I am prepping to begin for the first full week of school with the new students, I’m planning the ways I may need to fuel throughout the day. I am a huge meal planner but this coming week promises to be pretty hectic so I need to make sure my snack game is on point in case mealtimes aren’t consistent. Enter my favorite shopping site of all time- Thrive Market. 


Just a few of the goodies from my last order- got ’em all 30% cheaper than Whole Foods price point!

I discovered Thrive a few months ago while it was still in beta and fell in love. This is basically the love child of Whole Foods and Costco but without the price tag (of WF) or the hassle (of Costco)- an online site to order from a never-ending selection of healthy foods and snacks at wholesale pricing! With free shipping on orders over $49, I order every month or so to stock myself up on snacks and staples to keep me going when I’m on the run.

I’m so pumped to pack all my little snacks to get me through the day! I encourage you to browse through their site, which you can find at the link below. If you end up with a membership through this unique promo link, you can get 20% off your first order! Link below:


Happy trails(mix)!


The Power of Friendship

Does anyone else recall the song we all sang in Girl Scouts about old and new friends? It’s quite catchy in tune, but as I’ve grown older I realize it is also quite catchy in meaning. I had the chance to visit some of my best college friends this past weekend to see their new place in New York and it has really left me thinking about the power of friendship. “Make new friends, but keep the old” is a theme we are forced to accept as we move from our hometowns to our college towns to our young-adult towns. Having recently graduated, I’ve swung on the pendulum to the “make new friends” part- and frankly, it isn’t easy. I have lucked out with a slew of amazing coworkers (with whom I have spent basically every waking minute with in the past two weeks as we live out of a hotel for professional development) and that made me feel better about the prospect of having a new group to explore the city with. But even more so, it’s the “keep the old” that scares me. As our “working girl” lives get under way, how will I find the time to stay connected with the friends I have already made? Just seeing a few old friends for one Saturday left me feeling so loved and rejuvenated, making me realize how important it is to maintain communication with the people that know and love you. As a general rule, my best friend from home and I text and snapchat  at least everyday and that schedule used to consist of a few phone calls a week too. Yet as we both got busier with work and more exhausted upon our evening return home, the correspondence slowed. We both wholeheartedly know that a lack of constant communication does not mean we love each other any less- but it is sometimes sad nonetheless.

Making new friends on the way to a 7am meeting!

Making new friends on the way to a 7am meeting!

Visiting my college crew in NYC for the afternoon!

Visiting my college crew in NYC for the afternoon!

So, being the goal-oriented/Type-A/color-coded person that I am, I want to make a plan to ensure I keep my close friends close while still keeping my heart and time open for new friends to join me on this new chapter of my life. At work, we employ a reflection process that includes “key takeaways” and “action steps” to frame the end of every training session and I have decided to share those with you all.

My key takeaways about balancing old and new friends are as such:

  • New friends are essential to developing your new identity and support network as a twentysomethingeverything.
  • Older friends, especially the ones that support your passions and call you out on your shit when necessary, are still essential to keeping you grounded through this transition and beyond.

And my action steps (open for improvement as I dive deeper into my full-time schedule) include:

  • Communicating my love or attention to friends at least once a week. Sometimes this may be a phone call to hear the re-cap of a sketchy blind date someone braved, or perhaps just tagging them in a funny instagram post about a decades-old inside joke, or a group text to get a vote on what pair of shoes to buy. I want to be intentional about reminding my old friends how important they are to me.
  • I also commit to being more outgoing with my free time so that I can develop new friendships as well. I am notorious for turning down Friday night plans because I want to crawl into my bed at 9 p.m. but I need to catch a second wind to utilize happy hours and dinner get-togethers as a chance to bond with new coworkers or cool people I meet at the dog park.

Thanks for sticking through these thoughts with me! I want this blog to be useful to all the other thriving young ladies out there and do plan to mostly stick to a resource/advice-driven platform but there is also a cathartic effect of writing out the thoughts usually left to swim in my head. I appreciate the respect for my words, and hope that this reflection may lead you to reach out to a loved friend today too🙂



Workwear Wardrobe

Happy Sunday my friends! I apologize for the anti-climactic frequency of posts- I am spending all of August pinging between Newark, Camden, and Brooklyn for professional development with my charter network. It has been inspiring, rigorous, and overall exhausting but I am very lucky to join a company that holds such a high bar of expectations for every teacher.

In preparing for my week of travel last week, I decided to snap a pic of everything I packed- a sort of ‘capsule’ workwear wardrobe, if you will. This was the first full week I’ve had to be intentional about my work wear and cognisant of the limitations of hotel living. So, without further ado, I share with you what I would wear in a week of the “business-casual” realm.


For five business days of clothing I packed:

  • Two sheath dresses, Bar III (Macy’s)
  • Black ankle pants, Express
  • Camel ankle pants, Target
  • Printed peplum top, H&M
  • Printed silk blouse, Topshop for Nordstrom
  • Simple grey tee paired with statement necklace, both Forever 21
  • Nude D’orsay flats, Steve Madden
  • Matte black D’Orsay flats, Steve Madden

As you can see, I have managed to build most of my wardrobe from stores I consider to be relatively affordable. I’ve come to the learn that the trick is to judge the cut and material of each piece; “cheap” garments can be spotted from a mile away but many stores have stepped up their game and produced pieces that have more of a tailored fit and heavier material that look high-end. I find that I almost always grab workwear that fits those two categories and as a result have built (what I think to be) a nicely varied wardrobe on a limited budget.

I hope you all enjoy a week filled with beauty and inspiration (even if that literally just means admiring the milk design on your 7am Monday latte).


Welcome To the Real World

“Welcome to the real world.”

The phrase so many of us have so many feelings about- excitement, fear, anxiety, hope. The phrase I heard just two short months ago while celebrating graduation with some of the greatest friends I will ever know. The phrase I heard again from mom while we lugged IKEA treasures into my first apartment. The phrase that dripped with sarcasm as I wrote out my first rent check for said apartment. And the phrase with which I induct this blog; a brainchild I have been brewing for a few years now and take the plunge with today. So, welcome to the real world, blog. And welcome to my world, readers.

On the off-chance that this little corner of the internet ever draws in readers who do not know me in real life- my friends call me Jess. I just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and am learning to navigate my twenties within the beautiful/crazy/energetic city of Philadelphia. I begin my first full-time position teaching this September at a renaissance elementary school in Camden, NJ with the lofty goals of someday being a large cog in the machine that is transforming public education. I love social justice, cooking, my dog Ruby, correctly contracting you + are, spending hours on Pinterest, and all people who have a passion that they pursue relentlessly.

This blog represents a collection of my ideas, sources of inspiration, reflections on life, aspirations, and all the fun outfits and meals that fuel my everyday. One of my favorite leisure activities is scouring lifestyle blogs, YouTube outfits-of-the-day videos, and career-girl websites. One day I sort of thought to myself- why not share all this stuff I’m obsessed with? (At the very least, I can re-read the posts and BAM! instant audience!).

I come across so many angles of advising the “twenty-something” demographic but it so often feels like the material is cultivated by those who are so out of reach. I have yet to find a voice of the twenty-something that is truly living the adventure alongside us all . So I’ve decided to start speaking. I hope you enjoy.