Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.

Conversational: Madi Vincent

Last May, I wrote a post titled "Adulting Update."

It was essentially a confessional that, at 22 and in my first "real" grown-up job, I had no idea what I was doing, other than simply the best I could.

I'd been consistently blogging for only a few months, and honestly, I hadn't seen much evidence that I was doing anything more than typing to myself yet. So when I hit "publish" on that post, I was genuinely shocked at the response it received.

From fellow young professionals winging it in the real world to seasoned adult "fakers," I don't know that I've ever felt so warm and cozy on the interwebs than I did reading all the comments and messages saying me too. It gave me an extra boost of courage and confidence, marching down the office halls in my heels with an army of others in the same boat and on my side.

I've touched on the subject a few times since, as it's obviously a theme in my life and many others'; but mostly, my thoughts on navigating adulthood are shared in conversations with friends who are also in my stage of life.

This is lucky for me, because — I'd like to just take this moment to brag a bit — I happen to know what seems like an unusual amount of incredibly talented, creative, humble, and hard-working humans.

However, I decided that, A) knowing how encouraging and inspiring those conversations are to me and B) the kind of solidarity and relief last May's post seemed to offer, it was a little selfish for me to keep these people and our discussions to myself.

So, on the first Monday of every month in 2017, I'll be sharing a conversation with one of those talented, creative, humble, and hard-working friends — the people I ask for advice, find empathy in, bounce ideas off of, look to for inspiration, and hope to collaborate with someday.

First up is Madi Vincent, a marketing guru (my words not hers) and flower fairy (also my words) from Charlotte, North Carolina.

I met Madi at Liberty during my sophomore year. We had a few classes together, including COMS 360, where we slayed many a random group project, including building a decent paper replica of DeMoss Hall out of paper in under 30 minutes, which is still one of my top academic accomplishments. This probably says more about my academic accomplishments than the replica, but that's okay.

Madi has joked that she feels like she's accidentally living what was my life 6 months ago, as she recently entered the agency marketing world, and our shared experiences — especially when it comes to the good, bad, and ugly of clients — have made her someone I frequently text for a good dose of solidarity. She is a ray of sunshine with a great sense of humor, and has a knack for making the world around her a little more beautiful.

I called Madi a couple days after Christmas, and we chatted about some of our favorite topics, including advice of hers that I wish I'd had (and/or taken) straight out of college. The following is just a straight transcription of that phone call.

Friends, meet Madi!

So tell your story since graduation. Because I like yours.

Okay, so, I graduated in May with a strategic communications degree with a minor in global studies... and I had no idea what I wanted to do.

Rewind a bit — the summer before my senior year of college, I started a garden in my dad's backyard. I loved every second of it, it was so fun, and through that I kind of fell in love with flowers.

Right before I came back to Liberty, I emailed this local flower farm in Lynchburg and basically was like, hey, I don't really know anything about flowers, but I do know something about social media, so... if you'll teach me about flowers I'll help you with social media!

The owner of the farm knew people who knew me, and she responded and was like, okay, come on out and we can talk about it. She ended up offering me a job working on the farm, and so through my senior year of college I worked for [her]. It wasn't even a part-time job, honestly — I worked a couple mornings a week for like three hours, working in the garden, and I would take pictures and post them on Instagram for them. I loved every second of it.

So when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do post-grad, the owner of the farm contacted me and basically offered me more hours through the summer, and I just took it. I kind of figured, when else are you going to get to say you spent a summer working on a flower farm?

She started giving me more hours in the spring, like March and April I started trickling up, and by May and finals week I was really working [there]. I graduated and stayed in Lynchburg and worked on the farm until September, and it was the best summer job I've ever had. I worked with the coolest people, I learned so much about flowers and farming and got to make bouquets and work with brides. I learned so much about life, too. I also got to live with my mentor, so that was also really, really fun. I just had this dream summer with great friends in Lynchburg.

In September, my job ended and I knew I was supposed to move to Charlotte, so I just packed up everything I owned and moved in with my sister [Allie] in Charlotte. I didn't have a job or a plan or anything, really, and Allie was super gracious. I still live with her, actually, but I move out in a week — it took me a while to find a job, but I'm currently working at a digital marketing firm north of Charlotte. It's cool. I have a really great boss, my boss is awesome, and my coworkers are great, too. I think it's a stepping stone to figuring out, alright — what do I want to do? Like, permanently? So that's kind of where I am. I like where I am right now, I'm in a good spot, but it's a lot of figuring out what's next and what to do next... and I don't really know what that is. So. Yeah. That's where I am now!


What's great about working at the marketing firm I'm at is I'm getting a lot of experience and learning what I do like in my field and what I don't like in my field, which I think when I go to look for my next job — whenever that may be — I'll have a better idea of what I want to do.

I think the hardest thing about post-grad is a lot of times we think, well, we have to make the perfect decision, because it's going to be permanent. But I think the one thing that really kind of set me free from that was realizing that nothing is permanent. If I got a job and hated it, it was okay, and I could do something else.

Once I kind of figured that out, I could make a decision. And it's been really freeing, because I can say, well, this is awesome, this is great, but it doesn't have to be my forever. There's a million options. I could have, like, five different careers if I wanted to, you know? So I think that was kind of the point where I got that I just have to make a decision. That's where I was when my job ended in Lynchburg at the farm — okay, I just have to make a decision, and that decision is going to be Charlotte. And then when I was in Charlotte and didn't have a job — okay, I just have to make a decision, and that decision is where I'm working now.

I think a lot of times we don't want to make decisions because we're afraid of that commitment, but you just have to make a decision and stick with it for a while and you can always change your mind.

Yes! Oh my gosh, that's taken me forever to learn. I was paralyzed by that for a while after graduating, and it was my mom finally who said, Ryley. Just. Get. A job. And it doesn't have to be forever. And I was like, oh my gosh, you mean, and she was like yeah like you could move somewhere and get a job and not stay forever. You could just stay for a while and learn.

And that’s what I ended up doing — twice in a row I guess. I've gotten a job and moved there and learned. It's been great, and it's taught me, like you said, what I like and what I don't like — which has been just as important. Then I make a decision based on that and stick with that for a while and learn even more what I like, what I don't like, what I'm good at, what I'm bad at, and yeah, building that base knowledge and continuing to make decisions from there. It works.

One of my friend's parents told me you just have to be a sponge. You have to absorb everything you can, and then you can process it later. Absorb all you can at this job, figure things out and then you can move forward with more experience. I think your twenties is about... well, I think it comes down to, you just have to try things. And you have to be committed long enough to try something and make an informed decision about it, an opinion about it, and then you can move on. But you have to try things.

So you said earlier you knew you were supposed to go to Charlotte. How did you know that?

I think it was that I had this really cool job opportunity in Raleigh, and I really, really wanted it. And I didn't get it. And everywhere I had interviewed (because I was interviewing for jobs all summer while I was at the farm) nothing was panning out.

I just feel like — I don't know, I mean, I was praying about it, so I guess obviously it was the Lord saying "you need to move to Charlotte," but I feel like I can't say the Lord necessarily spoke to me and told me to move to Charlotte. I was kind of running out of options, and Charlotte was the closest place I had family — my dad lives in Utah, which would have been a crazy move — so I think logically it just made sense, and I feel like that logic came from the Lord guiding me. And also. because Charlotte felt, like, warm and fuzzy. I don't know how a place can be warm and fuzzy, but it is.

I grew up in Charlotte, and then my sophomore year of college my parents moved to Utah, which was crazy and different, so I hadn't really lived in Charlotte or been in Charlotte for more than like a couple of days since I went to college. Coming back to Charlotte was so great, because it was really familiar, but still new. And it just felt like a warm, fuzzy hug.

Lynchburg was so temporary, and I knew that — even when I was in school I knew it wasn't my long-term thing to be in Lynchburg. But I think when I finally moved to Charlotte it was like, okay, this is actually permanent. It felt cozy to be somewhere indefinitely, if that makes sense. To be somewhere familiar but also brand new, with no set plan to leave.

Yeah, that's how Austin was for me. Except it sounds like you were way more mature, because I started out not wanting go back to Austin really firmly, and then when I got there, it was like a warm fuzzy hug and I was like, oh. I'm a brat. Because I didn't want to move back here.

That's so funny. And it's so funny too because I feel like we — I'm lumping you into this, but — do that a lot. Like "I don't want to do something, I don't want to do something," even though it makes sense but it's this sort of fear. I don't know what it is. I'm not going to do that because... that's what people are expecting me to do. Or, I'm not going to do that because... that makes the most sense. Or, I'm not going to do that because it's not adventurous enough or not trying something new. But sometimes you just have to have a jumping-off base with something that feels familiar.

I feel like my only sign that I'm maturing is that my time of resistance gets shorter every time I make a decision like that. "No I don't want to do tha- ok never mind I’m just going to do it, it's probably going to work out."

No you're right. God's going to open doors, and you just have to walk through them. Like, I'm moving out of my sister's house finally — which is great because I'm going to be an adult and have my own apartment — and looking for a roommate was like that for me.

I knew I didn't want to overstay my welcome at Allie's, even though I really love living with her and it's really fun, and I had been kind of looking for places with this girl that I met at church. And then she got a job. In Wisconsin. And I was like, okay... now I don't know who I'm going to live with!

I was in this bible study and a girl in my bible study's roommate was moving out and she needed someone to move in like in January. It just worked out. It wasn't a headache and chaotic — I mean, it felt like a headache and chaotic because the person I'd been looking for moved to Wisconsin — but then this girl needed a roommate and it was like, oh, this just makes sense. It hasn't been so hard.

Yeah, I definitely think that too. Obviously we both share the faith aspect, but I think that maybe before I was trying to be an adult and stuff, I imagined that doing God's will or following him would be a lot more like him like shining beams of light on things and being like, GO THIS WAY. You know what I mean? It really has been more like things just working out as I'm following him on the day-to-day. It's not crazy chaotic. It's not a headache. It's an obvious option — and, like you said a big part of you moving to Charlotte was just that other things weren't panning out.

Sometimes I feel like me following God has been a lot less like clear direction and more like a pinball machine, because I just move forward until I hit a wall, and then it's like, okay, we're going to bounce off and go a different direction, because that door is closed. It's been less like grand proclamations or something, and more like me just going with what works until it doesn't work anymore, and letting those things go.

Yeah! But like, if you have a formula for audible directions from God, can you tell me? I would love that.

True. But since we don't currently have that, what would your advice be to others in our season of life based on your experience so far?

Oh, I think it would just be you have to make a decision. It doesn’t have to be the perfect decision, and it doesn't have to be a permanent decision or the ideal situation... I think there's a lot of value in just making a decision and sticking with it.  I think that's the only advice I have for the twenty-somethings: it's okay, you just have to make a decision. You can make one, it doesn't have to be the perfect one, and you can learn from it and you can remedy that mistake if it's a mistake. But don't be paralyzed by anything. Just make a decision.

If you need more Madi in your life (of course you do), you can find her on her blog and Instagram.

I ripped the photos off Madi's Facebook, so that's where those came from. According to her captions, they were taken by Esther Baseme.

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