Life As I Know It: November 2020

Stephanie Hill features A Different Kind of Holiday on The Style Bungalow

Style Blogger Stephanie Hill features A Different Kind of Holiday on The Style Bungalow

Last night my fiancé revisited Roosevelt’s famous quote, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor,” as we talked in length about the effects of the pandemic. I injected, “No, no…that’s not how the saying goes. I think rough seas make stronger sailors,” while I replayed all the struggles we’ve faced in this new decade. Then, he pulled me in closer, “Regardless, it says a lot about your character when the going gets rough.” Which made me wonder…how is he like professionally? Occasionally I’ll peek into my fiancé’s office while he’s on Zoom calls, but have no clue how he navigates tricky situations. Curious, I asked, “How do you respond in times of struggle at work?” He simply stated, “I don’t know… I guess I just figured it out. What about you?” “Same…I freak out a little…I figure it out,” I said. “Isn’t that how everyone manages?”

I keep saying these “Life As I Know It” entries (aka, my monthly letter from the editor) should be lighthearted, positive and uplifting, especially now, but the reality is these little entries feel a lot more like personal journal entries (which covers a variety of my thoughts, feelings and experiences). And there are usually three different facets that prompt me to write: love, pain or newfound inspiration. So I guess it makes sense that now (and for the past few months), I’ve documented my ongoing struggles with 2020. Even on the heels of a wedding, the feelings of defeat and burnout linger.

If you haven’t felt the growing impacts of the pandemic physically, emotionally or professionally (hell, or all three) by now, you should buy a lottery ticket (or three). It was presumptuous of me to think “this too shall pass” by fall (back in February) or that I wouldn’t be as impacted. There’s no need to share all that I’m experiencing (and, no it’s not COVID), but I can assure you that a few months ago the good ole’ tide of 2020 officially smacked me in the face. It was bound to happen. No business goes “straight up to the right,” my fiancé says every morning now, “but the pendulum will swing back eventually.” 

Stephanie Hill features Life As I Know It: November on The Style Bungalow

Around this same time, a friend of mine went through an unimaginable chapter in her life. One I sadly understood and can relate with all too well. Since she needed to break away for a little, and we had just moved into our home, I invited her over that afternoon. What started out as a brief moment away turned into hours on my porch, crying, laughing and being thankful for our friendship. At one instance, she looked down at her feet and noticed two tiles on our floor. It was an anchor and a ship sailing. “That’s random, what do those mean?” Baffled, I said “I have no clue…this house is so old! Who knows?!” She jokingly said, “Maybe it’s a hidden treasure!” 

Though 2020 continued on its course, I thought of that night on the porch and the intricacies of life I treasure: my fiancé, our families, friendships, health, jobs and our sweet little home, which we’re incredibly grateful to have purchased this year. I’ve let go of plans, routines and (at times) my happiness during this whole experience. But when I sit there, letting go of virtually everything, what I’ve discovered time and time again is resilience. Similar to that moment with my friend on the porch, I could tell that against all odds she chose to rise with resilience. Perhaps, the more “rough seas” we have to absorb (the kind that shakes your meaning and purpose), the more resilient you are to become. Ironically, 2020 revealed this in a new light and has shown me how much stronger I am for it. *sips wine* Yes, it’s been a year like no other…one that’s disrupted our lives so unexpectedly…but rough seas don’t last forever. It’s a bad storm and tomorrow is a new day. 

I think back to some of those bad storms… 

Moments in my rigorous ballet career. Financial struggles while freelancing to stay afloat. Car accidents and bad breakups. Health and family stuff. I survived…and continue to thrive. If you’re nodding your head right now thinking the same thing about your life, know that the ocean was rough, but remember you figured it out somehow. The harder the struggle, the more I grew. I developed grit and character, which was always found outside the comfort zone. Did I hate the process? Yes. Every minute of it. But I look back with a grateful heart. 

I think part of the reason why that quote resonates with everyone is because it’s so visual. It’s easy to imagine yourself steering a ship through a storm. An experienced sailor will emerge out of it successfully and the more storms he navigates, the more equipped he’ll be to take on bigger storms. He knows it’s only temporary. But if the sailor doesn’t have experience, and is unable to cope with a category 5 hurricane, the ship will be destroyed. As in life and its unforeseen challenges, you must get comfortable with discomfort because it’s not only necessary for growth, but crucial for your survival. The storm will pass, it always does, but how you handle navigating difficult situations says a lot about your character. You can either “figure it out” and push yourself to steer through the storm, drop an anchor and hunker down or fall apart. And when you drift, not sail, you risk things getting worse. 

Stephanie Hill features Life As I Know It: November on The Style Bungalow

Guess which one makes you stronger? 

I really like how Viktor Frankl puts it. He says, “When we are no longer able to change the situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Sure, a positive attitude won’t save me from 2020, but holding onto optimism will certainly shape my perspective. Instead of saying, “2020 sucked…” I’m changing the narrative to, “2020 was a turning point for me…I grew so much” There’s a lesson to be learned. I don’t know what it is and I’m definitely in the midst of a storm right now, but sometimes all you need is an anchor to hold on and make it.

Most mornings, we sip coffee on our porch together. Sometimes I’m half asleep; sometimes I’m wide awake and we’ll talk about whatever’s on our hearts (deep, light or silly things), even when it’s raining or really hot outside. It’s our favorite way to start the day. Now and again, I’ll look down at those two funny little tiles and smile: an anchor and a sail ship, rocking back and forth in my chair…maybe it wasn’t so random after all.

Xo, Stephanie

BLAZER, SHORTS: (c/o) J.Ing

SILK BLOUSE: Equipment (affordable option here)

VIVA SHOES, VIVA BAG: (c/o) Ferragamo

EARRINGS: Kenneth Jay Lane

Photography by Chelsae Anne

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