All in Travel

This Is What 25 Feels Like

I told a table of friends the other night that I haven’t yet had a crisis about turning 25. I am an ambiguous dreamer, not a future goal setter, so I’ve never had a picture in my mind of what 25 would look like. I didn’t necessarily think I would be married or having babies (Lord have mercy) or hitting certain career milestones by the time I hit my mid-twenties, so I didn’t feel like I was coming up short when I blew out my candles this past December.


Coming from somebody who feels suffocated in a turtleneck, I was not about tying myself down to anything. I can’t even buy a pair of shoes without feeling like I’m signing a contract with myself. There was no reason not to take the job really, since I spent all of the past year buying Tostitos and wine and was in no position to pass it up. But I wasn’t ready to give up the dream of traveling/writing/starring in my own television show, with the “I don’t belong in khakis and I want to be free” mentality.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: On Making Decisions When You Are Afraid LITERALLY Always

I fear more than just speaking up in a coffee shop. I fear doing anything that may be slightly risky to my physical health, like white water rafting (trying to buy concert tickets when they go on sale is enough adrenaline for me, thank you very much). I fear disappointing the people around me – friends, family, co-workers, and anyone who has crossed my path ever, really (getting honked at is a truly sad occasion for me). I fear making decisions of any sort because WHAT IF I MAKE THE WRONG ONE?! (Cue the panic attack.)

Returning to the Desert: When Life Feels Dry and Despairing

I have friends who are in the desert right now. Life feels dry; hope feels impossible. Every day is the same, wandering through an endless stretch of sand and rocks without a clear sense of direction, the sun beating down without reprieve. As the infinitely-wise sociologist and author Brené Brown writes, “Despair is a spiritual condition. It’s the belief that tomorrow will be just like today.” The desert feels so much like a place of despair, a place of death.

Top 10 Most-Read Posts of 2017

We owe everyone who has contributed their stories at least a year’s worth of lattes as a token of our gratitude, but alas, this simple “thank you” will have to carry the weight of our appreciation instead. Thank you, thank you to everyone who has written for, read, and supported That First Year this past year. We exist because of and for YOU and we can't wait for what 2018 will bring to this community. 

Here are the top 10 most-read posts of 2017. Enjoy these stories from some incredible writers.

Reclaiming the Wild

Wild. That is the name of the book I brought with me to Norway this past week. A memoir by Cheryl Strayed that was made famous by a movie starring Reese Witherspoon a couple of years back. A story about a woman whose answer to her spiraling, drug-induced, sex-addicted life was a one hundred day hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. A hope for change and reconciliation with her own grief drove her deep into the wilderness of California and Oregon. The book is compelling because of Strayed’s boldness in baring even the darkest parts of her humanity, but I was drawn to it because she gracefully gave a voice to a part of my heart that I often feel the need to keep silent—the part of me that is disconnected and restless until I am reclaimed by my need to be wild.

The Choice Between Digging Deep and Coasting

When I told people I was moving to Belize to volunteer at a Catholic high school, the responses were unique. Some people panicked at the thought of me getting Zika. My parents were shocked, but supported me. Friends were excited for me but also sad, and most of my friends’ parents asked me if it was safe where I would be staying. A select few still don't know where Belize is, or they still think I said Brazil.

Top 10 Most-Read Posts of 2016

One of the best parts about running That First Year is getting to read all of the stories y’all send to me and thinking “Wow, that gal or guy is one helluva writer!” I’m forever grateful to be given this opportunity to take care of this space, creating community through stories shared of That First Year after college and beyond.

Below is a list of 10 posts that received the most reads this year. Give these posts a read as we bring this year to a close.

I Tend to Come Apart on Trains

I tend to come apart on trains.

There's something about the liminal space of them; that in-between, not quite anywhere feeling that nourishes my reflective (and overdramatic) side. Throw in a sunset or a rainstorm, or any kind of weather that feeds my ability to wander the full spectrum of my emotions; add my headphones and a Starbucks Christmas takeaway cup, and you've got the recipe for a dreamy, introverted girl's fall-apart-on-a-train kind of situation.

Somewhere Else

"I'm moving to Canada."

That's something so many of us have heard, or even said ourselves, over the past week once America's long-awaited election results stared us in the face. Canada's immigration site even crashed from too many disgruntled, scared, devastated Americans looking for a way out. Canada will be better, we thought. In Canada we can find our peace.

That Time I Wanted to be a Nomad

And regardless of whether or not I became a nomad, I was still leaving Nashville. I was over this city with its drunken country music tourists on Broadway and lack of ocean or mountains and awful traffic and skinny-jean wearing boys who have no idea what they want.

“I’m leaving.”

That was my constant refrain to whoever asked me what I wanted to do.