just me, in my element

by Kaylah Stroup

Have you ever seen a photo of someone and thought “dang! I wish that was a picture of me!”? Not in the sense that you’d like to look like them but that you’d like to be in their location, doing what they’re doing. That they look like they’re enjoying themselves or that they look confident. That’s how I feel about this photo of myself… which is probably a pretty strange thing to admit. Let me try to explain though.

I’ve been living in Cleveland for just under three years now. It was actually around this time three years ago that I was mentally preparing to start a new life. I know I’ve mentioned it quite a few times, how excited I am to be in this city, and how different my life is but I’ve never really gotten into the details. I even got a weird passive aggressive email once about how I’m “really vague” when I talk about it and that I should just stop mentioning it if I wasn’t going to give the whole story. I guess I never really felt like I was being vague. In my mind some things don’t need explaining, they’re just obvious. I was in a crappy relationship where I felt stuck, and had severe social anxiety. Maybe things weren’t that obvious though, maybe I was good at hiding it.

In life before Cleveland I was so shy that it was painful to do just about everything. I hated talking to basically anyone I didn’t know. I barely left my house. I was even afraid to ride my bike around the block. But I was in a relationship, I owned a home at young age, and I was “happy” so what else did I need? It’s so weird to even type that stuff. It almost feels like I’m like I have to be talking about someone else’s life because it’s so far from where I’m at right now. Had I not written it then I probably would have pushed it out of my memory. In that post about riding my bike around the block I even wrote about how I couldn’t wait to look back and realize how stupid it was. At the time I hoped I could overcome but I didn’t know just how different life could really be.

I’ll never forget when I moved into my first apartment alone and someone anonymously (OF COURSE) left a snarky comment about what a “downgrade” it was moving to this small apartment. It hurt my feelings at the time because it was a really brave thing for me to go out on my own like that. Less than a year before, prior to getting my license, I hadn’t even been anywhere by myself! Didn’t they understand that it didn’t matter where I was living, the fact was that my life was about to be majorly upgraded? (I also stand by the fact that, huge life changing stuff aside, that was a super cute apartment.)

I’m trying to write more personal posts for the blog. Ya know, share more of whats going on under this green hair of mine. Maybe they’ll inspire you, or maybe they’ll just give you a better idea of who I am, and where I’m at. They’ll definitely be a little discombobulated and ramble-y. Talking about life BC* is uncomfortable for me. I mean, who wants to dig around in their past like that, especially for a bunch of strangers to read but that photo of me on my bike sparked something. I remember looking at photos of other bloggers posed in front of brick walls and wishing I could have photos of myself like that but how could I when simply going in my own fenced in backyard to take outfit photos made me anxious. This photo of me, to me, is a visual representation of how far I’ve come these last few years. I look so confident, like I’m really in my element. I’m super proud of me. I’ve come a long long way.

Here’s to continuing to grow, pushing myself out of my comfort zone as often as possible, and kicking ass!

*BC – before Cleveland, obviously! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Baking Betsy October 20, 2016 - 1:08 pm

You are awesome and anonymous snarky commenters are wankers. That photo of you is amazing, you should frame it ๐Ÿ™‚

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 10:40 pm


It would be a little weird to just have a framed photo of myself though, right? LOL. Maybe I can frame it and put it in my one of my cat's boxes. ๐Ÿ˜›

Meg Green October 24, 2016 - 6:06 pm

Not weird at all! If it inspires you and draws out your strength, why not, right?!

L. Nance December 8, 2016 - 3:15 am

I agree with Meg! ๐Ÿ™‚ You rock, Kaylah. I love that you're measuring your growth based on where you've been, not based on where other people have arbitrarily decided that you should be. Keep it up, girl! ๐Ÿ™‚

–L. K. Nance

Alexandra October 20, 2016 - 1:43 pm

Yes, yes YESSS to all of this. I've been following your blog for a long time, and to see you really blossom is so, so wonderful! Not to make this about me, but I 1000% get where you're coming from, because in a lot of ways this was me too – living in a house, stuck in a crappy relationship, living somewhere I didn't want to be and isolating myself because I felt stuck but was too afraid to change my whole life (dude, it's scary!). But once I moved to New York, I really became "me" in a way I always knew was possible, but the process had always felt so overwhelming – I'm still not sure how it happened, but I'm so glad it did! So, WHEW, congrats on taking the leap and just know you're not alone – also small apartments are awesome and SO QUICK to clean ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 10:43 pm

It's amazing how many people relate. Hearing other people's similar stories is SO nice, and so comforting. I mean, I obviously don't want anyone to ever feel like that but to know you're not alone is great.

Also, it is forever blowing my mind how much we have in coffee. I really really look forward to the day we can finally meet up.

Kaylah January 18, 2017 - 2:51 pm


How much we have in "coffee"???? HAHAHAHAH.

Diana October 20, 2016 - 1:55 pm

I loved reading this. Before 2 years ago, I was in a 6-year-long relationship that began when I was 18. I never went out alone, travelled alone, even like ate lunch at a restaurant alone. I even felt like I didn't have my own friends, they were all his friends that just became my friends once we got together and my friends fell to the wayside. When I ended that relationship, I also felt extremely proud of myself for the littlest things. It was all so new to me! I specifically remember the first time I drove to a friend's house in Center City, got there safely, and parallel parked my car and how proud of myself I was in that moment! And now when I think back on that person I was, it seems so silly. But I know how far I've come and how much more confident and happy I feel about myself and the little life I've carved out for myself. So I say, congrats to you!

I've loved your blog for years and this was one of my favorite posts of yours!

xo, Diana

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 10:46 pm

Did I write that comment, or what?! LOL. Seriously, so relatable! I celebrated EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING like that – parallel parking, especially!

I'm so happy you're doing you, Diana! <3333

Margaret Forsey October 20, 2016 - 1:57 pm

It seems so strange to me that someone would criticize you for leaving your home for an apartment. While owning a home is wonderful in many ways, it can also be challenging to maintain, and can give you less flexibility. It makes it more difficult if you want to try travel or live in new places. If you rent it is easier to pack up and go! It is also such a good experience to learn to live with close neighbours and deal with landlords. It sounds to me like moving to your apartment was a rally good choice for you!

I can relate to a lot of what you have written here. I do went through a period of my life where I thought I was happy, but in reality I was anxious, and isolated. It is amazing to me to look back and see how much more freedom, independence, and confidence I have now. I am so glad to read that you are feeling much more in your element these days, too.

Best wishes!

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 10:50 pm

Honestly, criticizing anything that doesn't involve you is stupid…

But yeah, totally. Renting definitely fits my lifestyle right now. Part of me would love be a home-owner again at some point, there are parts about it I miss but I enjoy renting. I don't have to worry about fixing anything and I don't have to live anywhere for a majorly long period of time. It fun to get to experience different areas of the city.

So happy you're doing well, Margaret! <333

Margaret Forsey October 21, 2016 - 3:45 pm

"honestly, criticizing anything that doesn't involve you is stupid…."
Yup, good point! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tine October 20, 2016 - 2:14 pm

If ever there was a photo you ought to hang in your house, it should be this one so you can feel that pride all the time! This really is inspiring for me, thank you for giving us such a personal peek in your life and thoughts.

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 10:51 pm


Thank you for reading.

C. October 20, 2016 - 2:25 pm

Great post! Thank you.

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 10:57 pm

Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kristina Burkey October 20, 2016 - 2:31 pm

Girl, I hear so much of this.
I have super social anxiety and I feel like (totally random) most people with weird hair do too and we need that beacon that tells people we're fun and friendly because we can't say it ourselves because we're just SUPER shy and freaked out by humans.
I am also pretty afraid to do things alone so I am always super impressed that you go and do outfit photos alone where people will be like "What is she doing…?" and to leave behind a comfy bubble and live alone and do things by yourself?? SO AWESOME. And PS anyone who says renting from buying can suck it because I just sold my house last year and I am LOVING being freeeeeeee!!!! We can decide to pick up and move like THAT! YASSS
Anyway this is ramble-y but I can't wait to read more of your personal posts as you write them. Thanks for sharing!

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 11:04 pm

For the record, I never do outfit photos in places where it's super busy. I try to stay off the beaten path. Partially out of embarrassment but also because I really really hate the idea of being in anyone's way. (That's another social anxiety thing I'm working on – I mean, not that I want to be in anyone's way but to exercise the fact I'm allowed to take up space.)

I FREAKING love doing things alone. I obviously really really enjoy spending time with Jeff, and doing lots of stuff with him but nothing beats as day spent wandering around alone. My favorite is hanging out at the mall, which is weird because I don't really buy anything but like wandering around, trying on things I know I won't buy and leisurely eating some orange chicken in the food court while I people watch. It's my favorite and it's just not the same with someone else.

ashley October 20, 2016 - 3:29 pm

I really loved this post. I'm sure it's not easy to talk about a painful past, especially on the internet for everyone to read. I don't know you but it's heartening to see someone grow and change like you have. Keep it up girl!

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 11:05 pm

Thanks, Ashley! <3

Hannah Peterson October 20, 2016 - 3:30 pm

I'm super proud of you, Kaylah! I loved to read BC Kaylah's posts, but I you seem much happier and healthier now. Thanks for sharing this awesome journey.

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 11:06 pm

Thanks, Hannah! I know that posts are totally different than BC but I hope you still enjoy them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mona Fitzpatrick October 20, 2016 - 3:49 pm

I'm so proud of you and how much you've grown! I've been reading your blog for years and it's clear that you have a stronger sense of self, that you're more outgoing and confident and that you are HAPPY with where your life is now. <3

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 11:09 pm

Thank you so much, Mona! ๐Ÿ˜€

Laurel October 20, 2016 - 4:07 pm

I love this post. Firstly because it makes me really happy for you, but also because I can totally relate to the feeling you're conveying here. It's so amazing what a few years and a little courage can do for you.

Kaylah October 20, 2016 - 11:10 pm

Right?! I never could have imagined life the way it is now. It's awesome! <3

PhotoPuddle October 20, 2016 - 4:17 pm

I remember your BC outfits posts. You would never have thought that you were axious about taking them. Glad you are happier and more confident now xxx

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:02 pm

Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

Jill Davis October 20, 2016 - 4:47 pm

It's odd that someone would accuse you of being vague. I think you've explained yourself pretty well in posts I've read. I don't think there's much else to say, unless they wanted you to trash-talk your ex or something. But who has time for that when you're so busy being happy and living your best life! Do you, girl! I'm happy for you and you're right, how could you possibly be downgrading when you've found so much freedom?

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:03 pm

Yeah, I mean I guess there are always some people who will want ALL the knitty gritty details but that will never happen. That's just not my style.


MeeschaMouse Art October 20, 2016 - 4:55 pm

I always thought that you were a pretty private person considering your profession is to write about your life. It was a little strange back when you owned that big house with a bunch of neighborhood cats slinking around, then pictures of your past relationship were common, then BOOM! Cleveland, independent, new and better relationship! Haha, I don't know why I always wanted to know more about the huge jump, this gives me a little more insight ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you. Not that I needed it, of course ๐Ÿ˜›

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:05 pm

I think it's human nature to be curious but honestly, a lot of the comments, emails and random things I read about it were beyond that. It's always important to remember that behind every screen name, blog, whatever is a REAL PERSON. Just because I share this doesn't mean I have to share that, ya know?

Mindi Wooley October 20, 2016 - 5:05 pm

I certainly relate to the *BC Kaylah*. I'm working on it, but social anxiety is a daily struggle for me. Reading your posts about how far you've come in that regard inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and sign up for Roller Derby. I'm not doing it right now, but I'll be signing up again next year and I'm hoping to make more of an effort to interact with people! It's tough, but it's getting easier for me I think ๐Ÿ™‚

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:06 pm

I'm proud of you, Mindi! Roller Derby is the one thing I think I'd like to do but am still a little too uncomfortable to try. I loved reading your posts about it. <3

Kate Zy October 20, 2016 - 5:12 pm

Oh, Kaylah! You should be so proud of yourself – I know I am. It's not easy to change your life for the better while struggling with anxiety. Watching you blossom into the confident young lady that you are has been really inspiring for me as a long time reader! Especially since I have also overcome social anxiety to lead a more complex and fulfilling life in the meantime. Keep it up!

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:07 pm

So happy to hear that, Kate! I love that The Dainty Squid has connected me with so many people going through the same thing. It's a lovely feeling.

Jasilyn Albert October 20, 2016 - 5:14 pm

It's totally not a downgrade moving from the outskirts to the city. They clearly do not realize cities are more expensive than the suburbs!

I do that a lot. I have anxiety doing a lot of things by myself. I can move to a different country alone but it kills me to walk alone to take pictures of something. It's so strange. This post reminded me of the time I saw you at Lowes and Target a few years ago and I literally had an internal debate on whether I should say 'Hi' to you in person. I was SO nervous and of course my nervousness won. Next time I won't be so scared! ๐Ÿ™‚

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:09 pm

DUDE, RIGHT? I'm currently looking to move to a different part of the city and am blown away by how little I get for how much I want to spend. If I moved to the suburbs I could basically have a mansion for the same price as a tiny one bedroom where I want to live. It's insane.

Haha! It is funny how anxiety picks and chooses. Moving to a different country should be the scary thing, not walking around and taking photos – but I totally get it!

When you're back in town sometime we should get coffee! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sian / sianblogs October 20, 2016 - 6:17 pm

It's so wonderful to read that you feel as though you're breaking out of your comfort zone – you most certainly are kicking ass! It's also amazing to read that the first photo of you makes you feel confident. I've been following your blog since I was in school (approx. 5+ years ago!) and I've always been in awe of your outfit pictures, in the same way as you described feeling about others photos! I really enjoy your personal posts, and this definitely inspires me to continue challenging the anxiety I suffer with!!

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:10 pm

Thank you so much Sian! Keep kicking ass! <3333

Mary Jackson October 20, 2016 - 6:33 pm

Kaylah, you're so inspiring to me-I understand your anxiety and connected to this post so much. I've been meaning to hop back on my bike- after a bad break up I've been associating it with my ex. So I understand what you mean when you say, you look at a photo and wish you were that person in that moment. I saw the picture of you on your bike, looking so happy and realized how I want to be that person AND if I want that, I should just do it. I just wanted you to know how great you are and how much this blog means to me. Thanks so much for sharing this. Best, -Mary

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:13 pm

YES. You have to reclaim your bike!!

Thank you so much for your kind words. <333

The Evil Banana October 20, 2016 - 7:00 pm

It's actually really nice to have you retouch subjects from years ago in a "different lifetime". I've a divorce at 27, so i understand not wanting to put yourself in those shoes deep enough to be able to write what it was like to live at that moment and move forward at the same time. It's warm and inviting for you to be open enough to the public to explain your move, especially for folks that stumbled upon your blog later (within the last 12 months? i think). but have become devoted daily readers. You're brave to have lived and survived a break up and even braver to share. Especially co-social anxiety ladies like myself.

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:14 pm


strawberrycupcake7 October 20, 2016 - 7:13 pm

I remember those old posts (BC), and you have really come so far! You should be really proud of yourself; some people never have the strength to overcome severe anxiety/ bad relationships. Also, you are inspiring others (myself included) to go after the things that will make them the most happy. Keep rockin' lady!

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:15 pm

Thank you so much! <3

Eve Preston October 20, 2016 - 7:43 pm

Dang gurl, this is really brave, bless you! Well done Kaylah ๐Ÿ™‚ xxxx

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:16 pm


Alissa Smulders-Timmermans October 20, 2016 - 8:00 pm

It's really heartbreaking to read about those nasty emails and comments you get. I love reading your blog for years now and it's amazing to see you grow, and always just be yourself. So no, it's not a strange thing to admit about how you feel about this awesome pic of yours. You do look confident! Be proud of yourself, you deserve it.

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:16 pm

Thank you so much! You're so kind. <3

Cole Lorynn October 20, 2016 - 9:08 pm

You are absolutely an inspiration to me. I was going through similar things at the same time and your new life really resonated with me. And seeing you overcome obstacles your anxiety poses for you encourages me to try, too. Bless you and everything you do.

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:17 pm

This makes me so happy to read! Keep kicking butt! ๐Ÿ˜€

minidigits October 20, 2016 - 11:30 pm

You are my inspiration – seriously.

I've been following you for years (which as I wrote that I was like whaaaaat?!?! awesome!) and I feel like every step you take gives me motivation and courage to take it with you. I just passed my driving test this morning, so I'm quite a bit behind you still, but I'm getting there! You are awesome, Kaylah. Mad props to all your accomplishments <3

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:19 pm

YAAAAAS. I'm so proud of you! Congrats on getting your license. That was a truly life changing moment for me. I can't imagine not having it now.

Get it girl!!! <3333

IDS Heartless October 20, 2016 - 11:34 pm

I guess I'm signed in to my son's email. lol I just wanted to say you inspire me. I want to be a blogger like you. I think that's great how far you've come. That apartment may have been small, but you moved into more square footage of yourself. Room to love yourself, to grown, room to be you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:20 pm

I can't tell you how much I love this comment. <333

lickmycupcakes October 20, 2016 - 11:36 pm

I have had a similar experience too. I was with my ex-husband for 9 years, starting at age 16. While I thought I was completely happy in that relationship, I realized soon after he left me for somebody else how toxic it was, and how much of myself I was holding back.

The following year I became strong as hell, got out into the world on my own, gained a bunch of independence, met the best friends ever and my now-husband, and now, 5 years on, I've just moved across the world from Australia to San Francisco to start a whole new adventure. I hope your adventure keeps on evolving x

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:22 pm

I'm so happy for you, Em! Hope you're loving the US! <3333

Sarah J. Belcher October 20, 2016 - 11:39 pm

I adore you for sharing this!

I recently started a new job (after 8 years of being a stay-at-home dog mom) working the front counter at a nearby dry cleaner. I've had several people (mostly family, but also my psychiatrist…in other words, people who should KNOW) comment that I "can do better" or that I'm "too smart" for this job. What they don't understand is how this is such a big leap for me — I haven't been LAZY all these years, I've been struggling with depression and anxiety, which I've been very open about. This part-time job is so much more than just me helping contribute to our household financially, it signifies a step in my recovery where I finally felt ready to move forward, when I decided the risks and anxiety involved would be outweighed by the mental health benefits of getting out more and being around other people.

Your apartment and my job are so much more significant than they appear on the surface, and I commend you for giving voice to that. <3

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:25 pm

Sarah, that's so awesome! I'm really proud of you! I totally understand what a big deal a job outside the house can be for those with anxiety. When my friend asked me to help out at her flower shop I agreed without realizing how much of an impact it would have on my life.

Keep on kicking ass!!! You rule.

Sarah Marvelous October 20, 2016 - 11:42 pm

I'm glad you'll be writing more personal posts! I've moved on my own from state to state so often and it can be a really hard thing to try to settle in somewhere completely on your own. I'm glad you love your city.

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:25 pm


Tiffany Harris October 21, 2016 - 1:50 am

I am SO happy to see this post. I found your blog when I was in almost your exact situation (except I was already married). I couldn't leave my apartment because of the excruciating anxiety and doing normal things in public (ordering food for example) terrified me. I was also way less happy in my relationship than I wanted to admit and like you, I felt stuck. Shortly after you moved to Cleveland, I moved to Chicago (I'm from Alabama). I didn't realize it at the time, but your bravery inspired me, so thank you and congratulations on how far you've come! Also, you look like a total badass on your bike.

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:28 pm

Oh yeah, I never ordered my own food! That's a new thing for me in the last few years.

So happy you found your independence. <3333

Cady Gebhardt October 21, 2016 - 1:52 am

I remember that post!! I've always related so heavily to you, I've been through the similar. This year was my breakout. Its so nice and also strange to look back and reflect on all the growth and change. That part is so wonderful. I still grieve the loss sometimes, but I am much happier now, and I'm glad you are blossoming into your best self!! I feel like I am too ๐Ÿ™‚

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:29 pm

YEEEEAH. Proud of you, Cady! <3333

andrea October 21, 2016 - 2:29 am

Kaylah- LONG time listener, first time caller. Girl! Girl! So fucking proud of you. For all of it- changing your situation, living it up, posting about it years later & even that baller track stand. You're a badass, and watching you get that fixed gear, and meet your man and go on adventures around Cleveland just made my heart so happy. It reminded me of myself in my mid-twenties, after my divorce from a religious wacko and finding the cycling scene here in Austin.
AND can I just say whoever your readers were who were dogging on that apartment or saying not to be so vague, obviously weren't picking up on nuances- because I (like I'm sure most of us) got ALL of it – as it was happening. Duh girl, duh. Screw them "you do you" (as the kids say). But I personally really like the 'you' that posts the personal stuff. BUT even if you never do it again, I'll keep on reading (five years strong! Whoop!) ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’– love to you fierce girl!

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:33 pm

HA. First of all, thank you for acknowledging my track stand. Jeff was trying to get a photo of me doing one a few days previous and I couldn't do it and was so annoyed because I can always do them at stop lights and stuff. I finally figured out that if I haven't been rolling and don't already have my balance it's just not going to work! ๐Ÿ˜›

ANYWAY, thank you so much for your kind words and for reading all these years. It means a lot! <3333

Samantha Wise October 21, 2016 - 2:45 am

I knew we had a lot in common already just from following your blog and Instagram for the past several year, but I didn't realize how much. I also escaped a shitty toxic relationship and moved away to start a new life on my own as a very shy introvert. Forcing myself to make that move was so hard and I'm so glad I did it because it definitely brought me out of my shell a bit and so many more positive changes have followed. With that being said, I'm proud of you for making such a big change for your happiness! You inspire me so much <3

-Sam (vagabondpixie)

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:34 pm

It's seriously blowing my mind how many ladies have the same story! It's heartbreaking but at the same time super inspiring.

I'm proud of you too, Sam! Keep kicking butt!! <33

Lela Bungard October 21, 2016 - 3:39 am

Like a bunch of these other folks above me, I can absolutely relate. The metamorphosis that happens after a huge life change like that is so liberating. I will sometimes catch being amazed at where I am in life. Almost like the girl I once was never existed. She's just someone else now.

You are such an awesome person. I loved this post. Thank you for sharing your life with us. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Completely off topic but I finally made it to Lagoon Deer Park and it was every bit as magical as I had hoped. I can't wait to go back.

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:35 pm

Thank you so much for reading and always leaving nice comments. It means a lot. <333

I am so glad you loved Lagoon Deer Park!!! I love that place so so so much.

Loรฏe October 21, 2016 - 5:19 am

Wow, I really loved this post. I really appreciated reading your insights about change, courage, and happiness, like that having the trappings of a "happy" life (relationship, house, etc.) doesn't guarantee contentedness. It's a shame that people have made such shallow and judgmental snarky comments! I think it's ridiculous how some people judge achievement as something like a linear progression with superficial steps, or like a check list whose items get ticked off and automatically produce happiness. People so often judge you based on arbitrary milestones that you've reached; in reality, those "all-important" milestones can be hollow successes. I loved the example of how moving to a small apartment alone was a HUGE achievement and upgrade–way to strike out on your own and do what suited you and made you happy. I've definitely seen in my own life how useless it is to remain stuck in a place just to keep up appearances and gain superficial approval, often from people who don't even know you well.

I would love to see more personal posts like this, so keep it up! ๐Ÿ™‚

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:40 pm

YES to all of what you just said. When I really think about my blog and what I want people to get from it it's exactly that! Success and happiness mean different things to everyone and that's totally fine. We all need to be a little bit more accepting!

steph rivers October 21, 2016 - 5:44 am

Like other readers, I can totally relate to feeling stuck and stymied, then taking a leap into the unknown/untested to live the life you really want. My details differ, however, gaining autonomy (learning to drive in my late 20s, making new friends) and moving to a new city has been like stepping into a world of 10000x more possibilities. I hope you never feel pressured to share personal posts but I loved reading this. You are absolutely kicking ass!

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:41 pm

Thank you so much, Steph! So happy to hear you're do you too! <333

miss-minoes October 21, 2016 - 5:47 am

Thank you for the lovely and inspiring post. Photos that makes you feel 'I wish that was me, oh wait, it is!' are the best. (And there's nothing weird about having a photo of yourself in the house. Especially one like this. Heck, even if it were a cheesy portray pic: it's your house, hang on your walls what you want! ๐Ÿ™‚ )Thanks for sharing your personal and relatable story. <3

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:41 pm

Thank you for reading and being so kind! <333

frl. liebstahl October 21, 2016 - 7:04 am

I'm so happy for you. You've worked so hard for this and come a long way, you deserve every last bit of this!

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:42 pm


Jessi October 21, 2016 - 7:29 am

You made a good choice! I'm not in a crappy relationship, but I have been deep personally. I'm happy I have a partner who let's me do what I want and just rolls his eyes when I have another weird idea or want to travel somewhere new. Its good you found your happy. That's the most important thing. And outsiders are just outsiders. They don't need to understand your choices ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:43 pm


Pepper Medley October 21, 2016 - 12:03 pm

I have family members who are vague when we text… bugs the bugs out of me, but to be vague on a blog is acceptable, since many things about our lives are not for public knowledge. Readers need to accept that or move on down the road imho. I LOVE the bicycle photo of you and would totally frame it and hang it (but not in the cat's house) because it totally tells your story. xo

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:43 pm


Catherine Denton October 21, 2016 - 12:09 pm

Love everything about this picture and what it represents!! Your face is up! Your adventuring inspires me to adventure. Your bravery inspires bravery! Thank you for this post. I'd hang it, even if in your closet hidden from others but visible to you!

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:44 pm

Thank you so much!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

elycia October 21, 2016 - 12:40 pm

I love you so much and in case I haven't mentioned it, I am so insanely proud of you. You did such a hard thing and you have changed so much in only good ways! I am so glad to read this. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:44 pm

I love YOU so much! <3333

Marine October 21, 2016 - 1:29 pm

The snarky comments are always anonymous, aren't they? But you're so much more confident than those people! (And they can suck it.) You really have opened up the last few years, and it has been wonderful to see. I look forward to more personal posts! It's something I've been trying to do on my end as well ๐Ÿ˜‰ It's funny how as writers we view those kinds of posts as sub-par when it comes to the writing, but as a reader those are the posts I enjoy the most (and I don't think I'm alone in that!).

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:48 pm

Personal posts are so weird. I spend forever typing other, shorter, less meaningful posts and I typed this baby up in one sitting (and it's gotten literally ten times the views as other posts! whaaaa!?) I'd love to share more things like this from time to time but the thing is that I honestly don't know what other sort of personal posts to share. I just saw this photo and was "yes! must type NOW!" I wish it was always like that.

Brandi Baker October 21, 2016 - 2:49 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this post!! I really enjoyed it! ๐Ÿ™‚ And you're right, that picture rocks! All the cars and buildings around you in the background signify so much life and movement, like, I feel like I can hear horns honking and people walking and going about their days. I've been a reader for a long time and that really is a big difference from your older posts. I would be proud too!! And I'm going to agree with what another comment said above, you should totally frame it. Why not have a picture of yourself that makes you feel great and proud and inspires you? That's empowering! And I can only imagine how weird it is to share such personal things with the world, total and complete strangers, who may give you unsolicited crap about it, as if it's their place to, or as if they lead this perfect life or something and don't have a past they'd rather not talk about. Meh, internet trolls. But I totally get what you're saying about being a different person. When I think about where I was in my life 10 years ago, it's mind blowing how different I feel. I totally feel like a completely different person, and I too am SO much happier now than I was back then. I refuse to go back to my hometown because it would just stir up weird emotions I'd rather not dwell on, you know? The same thing with certain songs. I can't listen to some things because it reminds me just of a general time in my life when I wasn't happy, and I don't want to feel that way! So kudos for sharing with us strangers out in the world. Not all of us are anonymous jerks. ๐Ÿ˜‰ <3

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:51 pm

Yes, I was trying to explain why that photo really struck a chord but kept typing and deleting because I couldn't find the right words. That's totally it though, so much life and movement in the background.

I totally get that about not wanting to listen to certain music or go back to a certain area. I'm very curious what my old house is looking like these days but I don't want to be anywhere near it.

Thank you so much for being so sweet! <333

Rebecca atPrettyBirdBlog October 21, 2016 - 2:56 pm

Aww Kaylah this is so inspiring! ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel like I'm Partially in a 'BC' phase myself- as I have a phobia of driving and despite the fact that I've been qualified for over 5 years, I don't drive. I rely on my boyfriend for *a lot* and honestly sometimes this makes me feel trapped- but I am making positive steps, and I've come a very long way so far. Your journey is one that has consistently inspired me since I started reading your blog around 4 years ago. What particularly inspired me is how your blog is so unique and you have a strong love of nature, like me. I now have my own blog, which is something I never thought I'd do! Don't worry about choosing what to share, because that's your perogative and you have the right to privacy ๐Ÿ™‚ and just keep doing what you're doing because you're amazing!




Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:53 pm

Hey, it doesn't happen overnight. Honestly, just being able to admit that you rely on someone else too much and would like more independence is a big step. <333

Kristin Reed October 21, 2016 - 3:29 pm

"We found a nice, quiet new place to take outfit pictures. This pretty wall is actually the back of a mausoleum. It's awesome because I've always really liked when bloggers take pictures in front of brick walls, probably only because it's different from what I'm used to. But I'm a country mouse and taking pictures anywhere where there would be one is a bit too intimating for me. This mausoleum is a great compromise, I get my pretty wall, no one is ever there and it's almost always shady against this wall – perfect!" You, August 2012.
I'm going through a similar journey and you are a constant motivation โ™กโ™กโ™ก

Kaylah October 21, 2016 - 4:53 pm


Abbey Joyce October 21, 2016 - 4:53 pm

I love this ๐Ÿ™‚ it is a truly beautiful picture, especially knowing what's behind it. I would love to hear some of the things that helped you get to this point. I feel like I'm somewhere between where you were and where you are, and I hope in a couple years I can be as happy and confident as you are ๐Ÿ™‚

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 2:52 pm

That's actually a really really great post idea! I'll try and work on a list!

Toria courtney October 21, 2016 - 4:58 pm

I can seriously relate to this post so much! I've experienced Similar experiences in the last two years moving to Sweden. Honestly your blog has been a serious source of inspiration not only in photography, fashion and perspectives on life ๏ฟฝ๏ฟฝ As we say in Sweden tack sรฅ mycket.

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 2:53 pm


arboreal October 21, 2016 - 5:05 pm

Long time reader, first time commenter! I have been following your blog for years and years, all the way from Melbourne, Australia and now from my current home in the UK. I think I had the opposite experience, in a way, because I was super confident and social in my home town and have found the move quite emotionally taxing. I'm surprised to notice how introverted and nervous around people I've become. But every day I know I am getting back to my old self. This post really struck a chord with me. I don't know what it is about biking in a new city but it really does make you more independent and brings a lot of happiness. I am glad to know I'm on a similar journey to yours with a nice positive ending to look forward to. xx

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 2:54 pm

Best of luck!! <3

Ashley October 21, 2016 - 5:45 pm

I feel like we went through very similar things. I ended my marriage of 6 years two years ago and it was the best thing I have ever done for myself. It was also probably one of the hardest. It's extremely hard and extremely brave to be in a situation and say "this is not good for me and this is not what I want." I got divorced, sold my home, moved into an apartment that I can guarantee was tinier than yours was, and soon after started dating the most amazing man. I feel like a completely different person – like I'm who I'm supposed to be now. It's freeing, isn't it? I struggle with depression and anxiety, but I feel more confident now than I ever did before. I have been reading your blog for many, many years and have noticed the difference in what you post and how you write about your experiences. Get it, girl. You rock and so do all the other people who chimed in with similar experiences.

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 2:58 pm

YAS! So proud of you! <3333

Kinda eerie how similar our stories are! I felt so alone while it was all happening but it's funny how many people were actually going through the same thing at the same time.

Lesley Spencer October 21, 2016 - 7:06 pm

Yay! Loved this post. It took me many long years of unhappiness in a relationship to break free and start again from scratch. Now I can be ME every day. This post has come at a meaningful time for me (good friend who was always positive and supportive of me died last Saturday) and I am even more determined to squeeze the living daylights out of every day! Thank you.

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 2:59 pm

I'm so sorry for your loss, Lesley! <333

Adrienne Woods October 21, 2016 - 7:07 pm

I love this post. I remember when I was reading your posts BC, I was sitting at my computer desk in a tiny nowhere town in Georgia, engaged to the wrong person and not being brave enough to change my life sooner. I stayed in that unhealthy relationship as long as I could until I "woke up" and accepted that it would never work out. I moved out of our house into an apartment and so on. Now I'm in a new state, new city, and will soon be marrying the right person. I went from only having a gravel/dirt road to ride my bike on to a whole city I explore! It's comforting to see another woman close to my age evolve and live a purposeful life. I hope you continue opening up more. You have so much support and many many fans!

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 3:01 pm

Gah, I'm seriously at a loss for words reading all these stories so similar to my own. I wish I could just give you a big hug!!!! <33333

Lana October 21, 2016 - 7:43 pm

Dear Kaylah…I've been following your blog since you were making little pocket books on Etsy in 2010 or something…I don't even know how long haha. I have always taken great comfort in reading and relating to you and being inspired by you. I have always wanted to reach out and say "hey thanks for putting yourself out there because I feel less alone now" but I didn't quite know how to say that without being weird or creepy. But this post, this post is amazing. Over the years I have grown too and I am just on the three year mark of moving to a new place myself and I recently had a similar reaction to some recent photos of me and I just relate so much to everything that you have shared and I am so grateful that you have shared all of this and so much of who you are because it has really been such a joy to experience for however many years now! I have loved reading all about your adventures and collections and photographs and things you love and watching as your style developed and getting inspired for my own style. I just have really loved reading your blog all of these years and I am super glad that you exist out there, growing and learning and being yourself.

Take care,

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 3:03 pm

Lana! Ah! Thank you so much! <3333

Kasia Baran October 21, 2016 - 8:31 pm

Love this post!
It is all in the little things. Maybe to some owning a house and being in a confined and comfortable relationship is 'making it.' But if happiness is prevented in certain situations, what are we living for?
I'm glad to see you turn things around and make the life you would rather have!
Kudos to you and here's to a better future!
It is great to see it and as many say, it is inspiring and motivational, thank you for showing it is possible!

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 3:03 pm

Exactly. I want to always be growing and changing. <2

Jennifer Holmquist October 21, 2016 - 11:01 pm

Thank you for sharing this personal post! It struck a chord with me because I sometimes feel similar to your BC feelings a bit. A little over a year ago I moved from Los Angeles to Annapolis because of my husband's work. (Literally a week after our wedding!) I now have a part-time job working from home and so making friends has been pretty hard. (The fact that I'm shy, introverted, and have social anxiety also doesn't help.) The people we have met are all from my husband's job. I stay home far too often, too shy sometimes to even work out of coffee shops. I was spoiled in LA, I had close friends who lived walking distance from me and always hung out. I need to learn to push myself out of my comfort zone I guess. Anyways, your blog is wonderful, keep doing what you do! Thank you! <3

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 3:07 pm

I totally get that. While working for myself is awesome it definitely means my circle is smaller. I don't have to interact with anyone if I don't want to which isn't a great thing for me. Sitting with my laptop at coffee shops is a new thing for me. I was too nervous to do it before but these last few months I've REALLY taken a liking to it. I feel so much happier and productive on days I spend a few hours there. It's a small thing but changes everything! It really helped me to go there with my boyfriend a few times before I went alone just so I could get a feel for the layout so maybe something like that would help you?

Best of luck! You got this! <3333

Sarah Albertson October 22, 2016 - 2:02 am

I am so freaking happy for you!! It takes so much courage to change your life around like you did, and I think it's awesome that you went for it! I felt stuck a while ago, I kept telling myself "This is my life now, get used to it" It took a while but now I am finally getting my life to be what I want, and am enjoying the adventure of getting there. Although there are some things I still need to work on (Like not being afraid to talk to my neighbors! Or on the the phone!) Thanks for sharing your personal experiences, keep on being awesome!

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 3:11 pm

So happy to hear that, Sarah! <333

PS Screw the phone! I still hate talking on the phone. I highly doubt that will ever ever change! ๐Ÿ˜›

Trinidad Triangular October 22, 2016 - 8:46 pm

I really can't believe there's people telling you things like that, I mean, you are amazing!! I've followed your blog for years now (since you have your shop in your parent's basement) and you always has been an inspiration for me, a huge inspiration. Makes me sad there's people telling you bad things about you, please don't let you down by them, they know nothing about you and all of your goals in life, and all that you has achieved in years. Being in a crappy relationship is such a dark time in life, because it's one of the worst pains we can feel about someone we love and trust.

Don't let you down ever for anyone and congratulations for all of your achievements <3

Hugs from Chile!

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 3:11 pm


Zoรฉ October 23, 2016 - 6:06 pm

You're awesome and anonymous comments are just idiots. I'm very happy you share with us on your blog, and would not expect you to share what you don't want/feel comfortable with/are ready to. And yay on this journey you've taken, it must have asked lots of courage… lots of love from Switzerland!

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 3:14 pm

Thank you so much!!! <3333

Abigail Aukerman October 23, 2016 - 11:14 pm

I'm a longtime reader, but I don't think I've ever commented. However, this post was so so brilliant I had to comment. I very much enjoy getting to read posts that are more personal from bloggers, and this one was especially great. I love how transparent you are. Bravo. Also, what a killer picture, frame that sucker!

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 3:14 pm

Thank you so much Abigail! <333

Brittlewick October 24, 2016 - 5:03 pm

I've been reading your blog since 2011. I feel like you're like an old friend or something–I've been reading your posts and looking through your beautiful photos for half a decade. Weird.
I just wanted to say that you've never seemed "vague" to this long-time lurker. Thanks for sharing your wonderful outlook on the world.

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 3:15 pm

Thank for reading all these years!!! <3333

Maja Arnesen October 25, 2016 - 8:31 pm

This post was so wonderful to read, and really relatable too.. Kicking anxiety's butt is some of the hardest work, but so worth it! The picture is gorgeous too, and you do look so natural and chill, and awesome as always!

Kaylah October 27, 2016 - 3:16 pm

Thanks!!! <3

p October 27, 2016 - 4:08 pm

hey! I really enjoyed the article, go you! and the picture is great, the longer hair really suits you ๐Ÿ™‚

Taya Drake October 28, 2016 - 1:30 am

Thank you for sharing that ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the posts on your blog but it's nice to read a little more about you. It inspires me to be less shy and branch out!

Bethany Susan October 28, 2016 - 5:10 am

I've been reading your blog since BC, and I am proud of you! (I hope that doesn't sound creepy from a stranger on the internet) It's been a pleasure and an inspiration watching and relating to your growing pains. I LOVE the more personal posts, rambling and all. MOAR please! You have that rare ability to make me feel like we're just having a casual conversation when I'm reading your posts. Keep that, and don't apologize for it! Just yesterday I was at the eye doctor experiencing deja vu (I had been having the same exam last year around this time) and telling my husband how crazy it is that I'm a totally different person this year than I was last year – in a good way! One thing I admire about you is the way you focus on the things that you love and enjoy about life. I tend to lose sight of those, and feel like in the midst of the constant change that is my expat life, I lose the good parts of myself that I want to hold on to. I want to work on that. Growing and changing is wonderful, but there are some things that should remain constant joys, right? Thanks for being an example of that!

hello haha narf November 14, 2016 - 10:34 pm

hooray for confidence and for growing and just all around hooray for you!
and fuck the haters. you do you. you are precious to this world and no one has a right to judge you.
love to you.

Jennifer Shaw November 25, 2016 - 2:41 am

Love this post. I remember all of this stuff including that snarky comment and how you wouldn't let it bring you down. It has been so exciting to see you flourish and it is so efficient how much you are enjoying your life. I think that your willingness to share this will help many people. Life is hard in so many ways and everyone has struggles of some kind or another, even if on the outside they pretend like everything is perfect. I wish you only the best! ๐Ÿ™‚

DollyDayDream November 26, 2016 - 2:29 pm

Really late to the comment party but…. I've been reading your blog for YEARS and it's so great to see and read about you being so happy! Awesome! xxx

Jean November 28, 2016 - 2:58 pm

Relate times 100, sweet dork. I'm almost 50 and have had to make a change like this three times. And may well have to again. It's so so scary and hard (moving, ending relationships, and social anxiety… it's amazing you did three at once!). The thing is, it takes time to contemplate leaving, save money, work up courage. That can take a few years. It's okay. It may need to happen again or it may not. You may have changed your life forever for the better in one fell blow. Certainly your social anxiety seems to be a ton better. Anyway, I do want to make this about me but won't. It's scary!! I moved from Minneapolis to New York and then several years later got sick of New York and didn't feel like myself and moved back. Hard. Lots of negativity toward moving AWAY from New York. It was great though. I landed really well. You'll always land well. You're so super cool and courageous.

Jean November 28, 2016 - 3:14 pm

OMG, I just commented but I have to comment again. Now, the thought of having stayed with that person I was with in my early 20s gives me a (not quite but almost literal) panic attack. Think about how stuck you'd feel at 40 as opposed to 20 and ….. whoa that… Yikes. In some ways, I can't believe I ended that relationship. I still can't believe I had the courage or frankly the insight to do it. But that has made all the difference. It was the start of everything. And you got the big transition done in your early 20s. Now it all begins.

three years! - THE DAINTY SQUID February 5, 2018 - 3:57 pm

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