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Familiarly Unfamiliar

By Carly Clegg

It’s officially been one month since we moved to our home in Dallas and my mind has yet to find a moment to stop analyzing the macro of all that’s to come these next 4 years. I’m currently in that awkward phase of finding new friends, networking my way through the “D-town” elite scene and looking for the best sushi spot—ya know, just a gal trying to find herself after all. I’m constantly on a quest to find the balance between career goals and happiness.

So here I am ten years later, living back in a city that I grew up in, but didn’t. Dallas 2.0: the not-so hometown. Anyone out there grow up in the ‘burbs, 40 minutes outside of the city? It didn’t really count as living in said city… because how would you get there without a driver’s license, probs? Like, going to the Cheesecake Factory was AN OUTING of all outings–your 16th birthday kind of occasion. Now, I’m living literally in the heart of downtown, but this time as a twenty-something young professional who’s married and still loves The Cheesecake Factory. I’m acting as a stranger to what should be familiar, but isn’t.

Rooted. My word of the year.
Every August, around my birthday, my psyche rewires itself and “reboots” like an auto update. On August 1st, I practice a period of introspection and ask myself three things: What do I want to accomplish this year? What do I want to change about my circumstances this year? What do I want to eliminate in my life this year?  I don’t ever put an ultimatum on these answers, they’re simply micro efforts in taking the next step towards becoming who it is that I’m meant to be. There are things I hope never change and there are some that no longer spark joy and I need to move on from. Life is ever-evolving, but it can be easy to fall into a routine that isn’t life-giving. For example, I know that I’ll be living in Dallas for at least four years, so I really want to hit the ground running and get plugged in to organizations that I can grow a broad network in beyond the workplace. To make this happen, I’ve created a list of these types of groups I can be involved in, noted who is a part of them, what their purpose is and how much the commitment would cost (both time and money). You know, just analyzing my options for where to plant seeds and grow roots in the US’s 5th largest market *nervous laugh.* The word rooted stems from (no pun intended) my life feeling very nomadic for the past few years. I’ve uprooted from one city to the next, searching for community after community after community. Hence the longing to grow roots– I’m longing for ones deep enough that they allow me to feel planted and produce good fruits.
Fun fact: when I was brainstorming about this this column, I was thinking about the Plumeria flower. (The explanation for all of the plumeria visuals.) That might seem out of left field, but allow me to quickly explain the characteristics of a Plumeria plant. In short, a Plumeria has no root system. They thrive from summer to late fall, become dormant in the winter months, and won’t survive if they live in a place that freezes. To protect them from harsh temperatures, you can simply uproot the plant and hang it up in your home, sans pot until spring. The Plumeria can survive by being uprooted from one “home” to the next because of its shallow roots. When I learned this after buying a Plumeria plant at the Dallas Farmers Market, I couldn’t help but identify with how a Plumeria thrives, because it’s exactly how I do. Whether you’re going through a job change, moving to a new home, relocating to a different state, surrounding yourself with a new friend group or taking a sabbatical to reset, you too will find yourself uprooted, and in time you’ll experience the beauty on the other side of the waiting period.
Speaking of which…let’s start out by reminding ourselves that everything is temporary. If it’s not going to matter in five years, don’t spend five minutes worrying about it. AKA, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Make money moves and limit your excuses of “I’m not __ enough to make that happen.” However, the setback I’ve been fighting lately is the question of, where do I even start? I want to accomplish so many things in life, but I am having a hard time narrowing my goals down and acting on at least one of my many pipedreams. If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of interests, passion projects, career goals and notes on napkins. I’m at a place where the vision board is there but the execution needs to follow.
My mantra? Everything is figureoutable. I’ve listed four exercises that help me get into that mindset. This isn’t necessarily a one size fits all “how to pick up where you left off after being uprooted” guide, but I hope it reminds you that you’re not alone in the wandering of young adulthood, and that these suggestions inspire you to be bold in the workplace. I also hope they challenge you to manifest your aspirations because ultimately, we are 100% responsible for our own lives.
Failure. I’m craving it lately. That might sound weird. Every time I explain it to a friend or family member their heads kind of cock to the side and their eyes do that squinty, “I-don’t-get-it” thing and I lose them for a second. Let me explain: failure can be a form of repercussion from trying. I’m HUGE on execution, whether in my personal life or my professional world. It’s a big part of me that I’m cultivating within my soul, that I never just say I’m going to do something, but I actually do the things I say. I’m a big, “walk what you talk” kind of gal. Failure means that I’m trying. It sucks for a second, but it’s worth it when all those no’s turn into a yes. Also, learn to love rejection. It’ll become like armor when you’re immune to it.
Battling imposter syndrome. Sometimes it’s just hard to own it. Have you ever been in a position where you’ve worked so hard to get, and suddenly you question your authority in that space? Same, girl. And we’re not alone. Let me remind you that you are not a fraud and are worthy of being a practitioner in the space you’re in. I like to make a list by separating feelings from facts, recognize that I’m a work in progress and deserve a seat at the table. Also- I’ve read that one way to battle this feeling is by accepting compliments, which I’m the WORST at. My husband calls me out when I turn around the conversation or direct attention away from me. Something I definitely need to work on!
Keep up culture. Remember social media is everyone’s highlight reel. Y’all this one is no joke and it’s exhausting. The facade of everyone out there “hustling,” becoming overnight sensations and making millions is a quick way to make us feel inadequate and fight a never ending battle of comparison. Some days I post a curated picture of me on my Instagram but moments prior I was just having a fight with my husband—we all do this, but it can be unhealthy when we scroll through our feeds and judge ourselves by other people’s “successes.”
Understanding the distinction between can’t and won’t. I recently listened to a podcast with author and entrepreneur Marie Forleo and she laid out the truth by using won’t in a sentence instead of can’t. It made me take a step back and think if these were my excuses I use when putting off tasks I want to accomplish in the day. For example, “I can’t go to the gym today” vs. “I won’t go to the gym today.” Cringy to even type. Analyze what it is that you “won’t” do instead of “can’t” do, and prioritize accordingly.
I want the only shot I have on this beautiful planet to be the best one possible for myself, and also for you.
Carly Clegg

Carly Clegg


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Carly is a native Texan currently living in Dallas with her husband and English Bulldog. She studied Telecommunication Media Studies at Texas A&M University and has been chasing dreams ever since. She is the proud Digital Content Director for a woman-owned online boutique, Town & Key headquartered in Dallas that embraces individuality and empowers women to express their unique style. A performing arts enthusiast, her passion for production led her to positions at entertainment and media giants like the Walt Disney World Company and iHeartMedia. Always open for thought-provoking conversation and connecting with others over an iced coffee, you can find her on Instagram at @carlyclegg.

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