The First Saturday in May

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I can taste the Mint Juleps now. I can see the oversized bows, hats, and seersuckers galore. If y’all are going to Derby, good luck out there, it is an adventure. There’s a reason why there is bourbon around every corner. Your patience will grow that day. If y’all are going to the infield at the Derby, bless your hearts and stay alive. I mean that in the best way possible, of course. Both options are incredibly fun but sometimes a little too much fun if you catch my drift. You know what they say, a darling hat, a cute dress, I’m about to be a drunken mess. If you can’t make it to Churchill Downs but you still want to be a part of the Derby Day experience, I have some alternative options for you.

I’ll let y’all in on a little local secret. If you live in Kentucky, you’re probably not going to be at Churchill Downs. While it is a beautiful place, the day could be a potential headache if you are not mentally prepared for the traffic, massive crowd, and parking nightmare. Hey, don’t get me wrong. I encourage everyone to go to Churchill at least once in their lives but you need to be prepared with patience and probably a little buzz. It’s just not my cup of bourbon and coke. However, Keeneland definitely is.

My goodness, Keeneland season is a two month holiday in Kentucky. The day after Keeneland closes is essentially like the day after Christmas. Maybe a little dramatic but you get my point. However, many people don’t know that Keeneland is open on Derby Day and it’s not quite what people might expect. For one, you can go inside Keeneland and tailgate. Yes y’all, inside. As soon as you enter Keeneland and arrive on the paddock, you will see hundreds of people with food, derby décor, derby hats, and a mint julep in hand. You can bring in tables, chairs, food and nonalcoholic drinks (if you aren’t sneaky enough to bring other adult beverages in). There is live music, dancing, and flat screens all around displaying the derby races. People are there as soon as the doors open at 9 am and don’t leave until the last race is finished. Honestly, it’s one of the best times you will ever have.

If you don’t feel like getting up early and staying the entire time at Keeneland, I’d suggest two things. One, make friends fast with the people next to you. Once you place your tables and chairs down to reserve your area, people usually don’t mess with your things. That’s just southern hospitality. If you’re paranoid and don’t trust leaving your items, make friends with the people next to you and ask if they can just keep an eye on your area until you come back. Mostly likely, they won’t mind. But if there is some hesitation, bourbon, in return for the favor, usually wins people over down here. Second option is to go to the Hill. The Hill is where the majority of college kids stay during Keeneland season since you can bring your own alcohol and tailgate before going in to watch the races. The Hill during Keeneland meets and even on Derby Day stream the races live on a giant projector screen so people usually stay up there if they get a little white girl wasted to go inside of Keeneland. Either way, you can never go wrong with a visit to Keeneland on the first Saturday of May.

May your Derby Day be filled with cute dresses, bourbon, and a little southern hospitality!

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To All My Fellow 20 Somethings

Take a moment and look around your social media feed. Just pick one. If you’re like me and are super impatient, Instagram is the best option. You can creep on people in half the time. So, what do you notice? If you’re like me, I see people I graduated high school and college with either married and starting a family, still in school finishing undergrad or continuing their education, or inebriated Thursday through Saturday. Hey, I’m not here to judge but I’m here to point out that being in your 20’s is weird. Everyone is in a different place and it can look like you’re either behind where you should be in life or you rushed to get where you are now. Any way you want to look at it, those outlooks don’t have to be viewed in a negative aspect. For one, maybe you’re the type of person who enjoys the ride you’re on and aren’t in a hurry to start a future dream, whether that dream involves a family or particular job or place you want to live. On the other hand, you might be the type of person who felt ready, like it was your time. You were in the right place to begin your dream, whatever that looks like. Long story short, it’s important to remember everyone is not on the same timeline.

For example, have you ever looked at Morgan Freeman’s career? The man and the voice didn’t start his career until he was 52 years old. Yes, 52 years old. Google it people. Freeman is now 79 years old. Sorry Morgan, I couldn’t put young there. You’re past the point of that darlin’. On the polar opposite side, you can look at Christopher Walken. This man started his acting career when he was 10 years old and has been relevant ever since. If you just googled who Morgan Freeman or Christopher Walken is, please make your way to the small ‘x’ at the top of the screen and go take a lap. You need a moment. If you’re not interested in celebrities, look up successful business men and women who made it big or when the presidents came into office and notice the age difference. The point I’m trying to make to y’all and to myself is that you’re fine. You, my friend, are not behind or rushing through life. Your timeline is not the same as the person you just scrolled past in your feed. I’m still trying to grasp this because it’s easy to compare yourself and your life to the other people you friend or follow or occasionally creep on. If you feel stuck, do something. If you feel rushed, take a second to breathe and slow down. Have a night to yourself and don’t think about all of the stresses in your life. Better yet, give them to God. He’s certainly big enough to handle your problems. Life has a funny way of working out so if you think it’s not working out fast enough or things are happening too fast, take a chill pill, sit on the couch and veg out because you’re going to be ok. Things will happen when they happen at just the right time.

Post Grad – Lessons Still Not Learned

A year ago today, I was studying for my last set of college finals and accepting my first big girl job. Four years flew by and caused unforgettable memories, life changing friendship, and a few mistakes on the way. As I was sitting in the living of the sorority house surrounded by my sisters, you couldn’t help but feel that we were ready to leave but wishing we could stay just a little longer. As many of you get ready to graduate and set off on a new adventure, here are some things I am still learning after graduation.

1. Your job does not define who you are.

In college, you define yourself with what sorority or fraternity you are affiliated with, what club you are associated with, or what your major is. Personally, I think it is natural for us to define ourselves with a certain group of people to make transitions easier. College is a big transition for anyone so you join clubs, get involved with Greek life, or play a club sport to find new friends and where you fit in this over sized campus. You get comfortable after four years but once you graduate, you don’t have that identity anymore. For me, I coped by defining myself by my job and I made myself miserable. Your first job is usually not your dream job and if you are reading this and have your dream job right out of college, congratulations – you win at life. I’m thankful for my job but let’s be honest, an entry-level job is not where I want to be in the future and it made me feel like a failure. Instead of defining yourself based on your job, define yourself on your qualities, your goofiness, your spunk, your creativity, your morals and values, and things that actually make the person you are.

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2. Travel, save, travel and save.

Since you’ve been living on Cook-Out and Ramon, your first pay check will make you feel like you have all the money in the world. No joke, it’s the best feeling to see that you have more than $5 in your bank account. To be honest, I went on a shopping spree with my first pay check (sorry, mom). I’m a strong believer that your first pay check should be spent getting something you have been wanting for a while unless that means going into debt. However once you get that one thing, you should save save save your money so you can travel as much as you can. Chances are you are probably not married or have kids, you have little responsibility, and the only child you have is your dog.  This is the best time to travel and see the places you have always wanted to go. A big reason it’s the best time is not only do you have the time and money for it, but you still have a beer taste with a champagne budget. Ok, maybe not a champagne budget but after multiple college spring breaks, the Motel 6 doesn’t seem that bad to stay in. Plus, many of your friends from college will be moving to different cities so you’ll have a free place to stay and get to see them. It’s a win, win.

 

  3. Stay in touch with the people who matter most.

It’s hard to go from seeing everyone you know every day to actually having to make an effort to keep them in your life. As a past sorority snot, I never appreciated the convenience and accessibility I had to see my friends every day until I didn’t have that luxury anymore. Most likely, you will be the youngest person at your new job and everyone around you will probably be married and starting a family. It can be difficult going from being around people your age since you entered preschool to surrounded by people who are in a completely different stage of life than you. Don’t get me wrong, these people probably aren’t much older than you and still know how to have fun but it can be hard to find common ground. Your friends you met in college will help you through it because ya’ll will be in the same boat. Plus, if they are really your friends, you will want to stay in touch with them no matter the distance.

 

 4. Make friends in the workplace – it will make your life easier and connections are everything.

Your coworkers are what make your job fun and enjoyable so get to know them. They will make you laugh and tell you if you are being over dramatic about what your manager said to you. You need an outlet at work and someone you can talk to. Work, like school, is stressful, frustrating, and exhausting so you need that support who understands what you are going through. Also, get to know the CEO’s, HR’s, VP’s, and Executive Teams of the office. I have a saying that I live by and it’s “unless you’re Dolly Parton or Jesus, I’m probably going to treat you the same as everyone else.” In other words, even if you are high up in the company, I’m going to treat you with the same respect as anyone else in the workplace. I don’t act any different around the Executive Team, HR, or CEO of the organization I work for. Some people might disagree with me and that’s ok but it’s worked out for me so far. They know who I am, they always make a point to come say hi and make conversation, and I have built strong connections and references for the future.

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 5. It’s ok to want to go back.

Lastly and one of the most important lessons I am still learning thus far is that it is ok to want to go back to college. Let’s be honest, those are some of the best times of your life and you are constantly surrounded by your friends. Once August began, it hit me that I actually graduated and wasn’t going back to school to reunite with my friends. Social media can be your worst enemy when you are feeling “home sick”. Chances are you still have friends that are younger than you and are going back to college. Disclaimer: they will be posting all over social media about reuniting with friends, moving into new houses, and starting a new year at college. It’s hard not to feel like you’re missing something when you aren’t going back to where you are most comfortable. You lose a little part of what you were and you’re trying to navigate your way through this new chapter in your life. Your college self will always be with you but now you’re growing into the person God intented you to be.