fake it 'til you make it

abbey crain

I'm a model.
I'm a writer.
I'm an artist.
I'm happy.
I'm good. 

I honestly have no clue what I'm doing. Five years ago this month I started this blog with a closet full of Forever21 clothes waiting to be styled and a few friends who wanted to practice their photography. I didn't think I was pretty enough to be a fashion blogger. And I don't think my life is exciting enough to be a lifestyle blogger. But somewhere along the way I kept going; and kept posing; and kept writing. 

 

This fake it 'til you make it attitude has pushed me in promising directions over the last half decade. When i started blogging I told my self I was pretty enough to be seen, to be put on display, vulnerable. I still have a hard time feeling confident enough to post that Instagram, that blog post, but I do so I am. I am a model.

My job is to write and I write in my free time, for fun even. But I still have a hard time calling myself a writer. I don't know if that's the stifled southern woman in me, never wanting to give myself credit where the credit is truly do, or if I just don't feel like what I imagine the great Beat writers feel like. We aren't that different after all. Here I am sipping black coffee in a small shop typing away. The only difference is the manner in which our fingers move, pen to paper and fingers to computer keys. I am a writer. 

I was an art minor in college and continue to practice the arts in plethora of ways. I've designed my apartment decor just so. I paint. I garden. Yet I feel almost queasy calling myself an artist. But I am one, you know. I am an artist.

I've become more myself over the last few years, owning the fact that my moods are not moods and something that I often can't control. I get stuck and I get down. And when I'm down the only way I can get up is to pretend. To say I am worthy, worth happiness, worthwhile. I say I am happy and good and I am. I am happy and good. 

I say that I am and I am. I am a strong, artist, model, writer, a good person. I am happy. I am. 

Side story: My friend Sarah was taking photos for my blog in Nashville and a handsome man confronted us with his big official-looking camera. He was photographing a model for a local magazine. He asked us what we were doing. "Blogging," I replied confidently. He patronizingly asked what kind of blog I ran and questioned what I was wearing. Sarah continued to photograph me while he asked more about me. Without skipping a beat I told him I was a lifestyle blogger in Brooklyn and worked for the Wall Street Journal. I know I didn't look like the conventional bubbly blogger in my shapeless overalls and medium frame. But I told him WHO I was and he eventually backed off.

minimalist

abbeycrain

One of my good friends would always clean her room, purging it of excess, after a breakup or a particularly tough time in her life. I would walk in her room and she would be carefully putting everything into its place while sweeping the leftover into plastic bags. Beloved, but unworn sweaters became thrift fodder and bits of crafts yet to be finished finally trashed. She spring cleaned year round.

After this especially brutal winter, I’ve decided to do a purge as well, narrowing down my closet and throwing out the overflowing apartment accoutrements. Minimal is in after all. After two years of being in my well-loved apartment, I am already itching to start over in a new clean space, redecorate, and start over. But in the meantime I’m just going to be paring everything down. It is in fact possible to have too many vases, leftover candle holders, scratched-up skillets, moth-eaten sheet sets to be saved for guests, and free by way of street trash cookbooks.

So here’s to dressing simpler, an edited apartment, and clearer headspace. Hopefully my big clean will inspire my creativity more and I can get back to painting.

If you're interested, here's a link to clothes I am selling on Poshmark.

abbeycrain

[shirt-madewell (old) pants-urbanoutfitters, shoes-steve madden, earrings-jcrew]

reckoning with my roots

I’ve been thinking a lot about my southern identity since listening to the This American Life spin-off podcast, S-town. Being a southerner is complicated today. It’s hard to embrace my roots when so much of it is gnarled and bent up in a divided political climate. But I can’t help but to love those roots that fed me and gave me a safe space to lay my head, the roots that ground me.

Growing up I never identified as a southern girl. Even as an elementary schooler, writing “Alabama” on a sweepstakes entry to win Limited Too clothes, I feared I’d be judged by store owners for my divisive home state. At 10 and 11 I knew being from Alabama meant something.

I remember being called out for my accent on a trip to Pennsylvania. I remember my cheeks turning red hot, eyes welling with tears. I repeated my words carefully without rounding my vowels, cutting off each syllable so as to hide the small drawl my family taught me. I get asked today where my accent is, as if I’m hiding it, as if locating the accent would have lessened my worth in my new home state.

But the South is not just accents and overalls, dated beliefs and big families. It is all of those things, but if you take the time to look closer, the hard lines formed in tradition have cracks. The cracks are filled with history so deep we truly believe the adopted traditions swiped from others are our own. Our pride swells so big that fact sometimes falls to the wayside. And our beliefs are so strong we forget the value of another’s upbringing. Sometimes our “well-meaning” is really just our stubborn roots. We were taught that way you know.

Today I find myself somewhere in between. I’ve grown up and out in many ways. I have a hard time identifying with southern stereotypes, the characteristics my friends and family posses. But I cherish them. These identifiers help me navigate my place in this world by grounding me in a culture of hard working, nurturing, welcoming people. I may have lost most of my drawl, but I still possess the fruit of my upbringing, my roots.

S-town reminded me of the complicated characters that inhabit rural Alabama and seep into the politics and PTAs of the bigger cities. But I am one too, a southerner. I don’t fit the stereotype of conservative, judgmental, Bible-thumper, but even if I did I’m sure there’d be more to me than those adjectives. There would be a reason I was that way. And it would be everyone else’s job to dig just a little bit deeper just as the other side requires of the former.

I don’t really know where I was going with this, just that I feel all sorts of protective about my home characters after everyone got to see the dirty parts of southern culture in S-town. In these tumultuous divided times, may we remember to give the same second thought to misunderstood strangers as we hope others give us.

apartment nooks

New York can sometimes be overstimulating. So I take my apartment decorating pretty seriously. I am a homebody after all.

It’s taken me a while, but I finally feel like my apartment is where I want it to be. Complete with cozy corners and curated nooks, I finally feel at home in my home. My decorating style is a bit all over the place, as I assume most people’s first big girl apartments are. I’ve found the best deals at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond, and swiped art and furniture from the side of the road.

I can’t wait to start registering for big girl homewares for our wedding. I suppose I’ll have to do an updated apartment tour then. But until then here’s a look at some of my favorite apartment “moments.”

for him

I don’t talk much about my significant other on here. He blazes trails in his own way and doesn’t need elevated words on the internet to prop himself up. But he is my partner in everything and I think he deserves some attention.

We are coming up on three years together and will be married in six or so short months. These three years have arguably been the hardest three years of my life and I don’t know if I could have blazed through them without his constant support and understanding.

Three years ago I lost my grandfather. He showed up unexpectedly for his funeral after only having been together for two months. I moved to a city where I knew close to no one. He beat me to my city so we could conquer new places together. I struggled being so far away from my family. He said I was his family.

Two years ago we went through a very personal journey of unexpected choices. He remained strong, but sensitive and I am forever thankful for him by my side. We moved in together, a first for for us both. He waged my imperfections with grace even when I didn’t his.

One year ago I began my campaign for mental health. He saw me through it. He never questioned my feelings; and let me be when necessary. One year ago he asked me to be with him always, so of course I said yes.

Here’s to many more, my dear.

conquering the sads

New York is a hard place to thrive. It's emotionally taxing, financially exhausting and oh so over-stimulating.

I love the beautiful people here and the exposed hearts from which their fears and desires overflow. I love the abundance of quality cuisines, the deluge of taste I just recently came to appreciate. I love my small, but mighty community my fiance and I have cultivated, for without them I don't think I could make it up here. But with its apparent charm and bountiful flavor New York also bares fruit to a more somber side: cold winters, expensive rent and that nagging feeling of loneliness big cities are often wrapped in.

I find it much easier to flourish in the Fall and Spring when the weather is mild, when itt is almost welcoming. But Winters are rough, especially for this southern somebody.

Since moving up here I've found that my psyche cycles with the seasons. I notice a discernible change when it starts to get cold outside. The days get shorter, dusk comes sooner and my mind wanders deeper. The winter blues, seasonal affective disorder, depression; the feelings do not lack names; but for the last three years it lacked a solution.

This year I made it my mission to conquer winter, maybe not with a smile on my face, but fiercely nonetheless. I didn’t make it without a few rounds of tears and nights kept up late tossing and turning away from the blues, but today is the first day of Spring and I feel a little bit better than yesterday.

Here’s a few things I did this Winter to help cope with the SADs. I use the same devices when coping with the lowercase sads as well.

Make plans. Keep a planner and plan out your week. Fill in the blank spaces when you mind tends to wander deepest into the dark with coffee dates and movie nights, poetry readings and art classes. Be in the presence of others even if you don’t have quite the energy to interact with them.

Reach out. I’ve always been known for being “blunt.” I think that might be code word for bitchy or obnoxious, but it has served me well in this season of life. Tell your friends and close acquaintances you’re struggling. Be honest. I’ve been invited to many more seemingly random gatherings and dinner groups because of it. So far I haven’t weirded too many people out, which is why I’m sharing this on my blog. People need people.

Spruce up. Decorate your space with cozy earthy elements. My collection of plants, pots, candles and crystals have brought me joy and comfort when the dark side overcomes the light. Make a little nook of your favorite things. Mine is on my bedside table. It’s nice to look at pretty things before settling into bed.

Dive in. Dive into to something you love. For me that was blogging and my Faith. I didn’t feel like doing either, but I put them in my planner and made them a priority. They were both things bigger than myself that seemed to have bigger meaning than the thoughts in my head. So I guess this is a time to say thanks for following along. Your comments of encouragement has meant more to me than you know. Thanks for reading. Knowing I’m not the only one out there has helped sweep away the SADs.

*If you need help, get help. These little tips were also used in conjunction with professional doctors, meds, etc.

These photos are of me genuinely happy after a full (spontaneous sads vacation) weekend spent with a good friend I can reach out to. Thanks, girl.