Photo: Tara Howard
One Saturday afternoon a few months ago, I sat down to write this Qlette introduction letter. After I finished writing, I read everything back to myself and realized that the entire piece was written in a style that I sometimes refer to as “cookies and flowers” – a little too sweet and bubbly.
I immediately pressed delete. It just seemed forced and dishonest – the opposite of what Qlette is all about.
While we at Quarterlette do actually enjoy eating cookies and buying flowers, and believe that positivity and optimism can both be very powerful, the site was developed to provide an honest and relatable platform for women who are navigating the quarter-life years. It was developed to reflect something real.
After tossing away my first draft, I decided to instead introduce this site by writing a little bit about my own quarter-life story.
I should first probably let you know that I am not the typical twenty-something girl with a blog. I sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about myself and I especially feel weird sharing updates about my life in the digital space (for instance, I believe that prior to Quarterlette, I only made 1 or 2 Facebook status updates – one of which, I think, was to thank people for saying happy birthday to me. And the only twitter handle or blog that I use is related to this brand). I’m also an incredibly private person (unless I know you extremely well, in which case I’m an open book), so this whole sharing-information-about-my-life situation is still a bit foreign to me. But since so many women are sharing their own personal stories with us for the site, I would like to do the same.
I’m not trying to necessarily inspire you with life-changing advice (I’m not perfect and I don’t have it all figured out), but I simply want to provide you with something relatable that sets the stage for what Quarterlette.com is all about.
It starts out around 6 years ago. I had recently moved to New York City 3 weeks after graduating from college. I was starry-eyed and excited for my new adventures in the city but also slightly unaware of what post-college life entailed. I vividly remember walking outside of my apartment the first night and watching two women who looked like models pass by, as my roommate and I exchanged glances that were a combination of extreme intimidation and I-can’t-believe-we-live-among-models, how-cool-are-we, giddiness.
After studying abroad in London the year prior and having the time of my life, I figured that moving to “The City” would essentially be an extension of my abroad experience…with an income!
Well…I was wrong…and naïve.
My first apartment was definitely a stereotypical post-college apartment. My room didn’t have a real door, one roommate lived in my walk-in closet, thus requiring her to walk through my room to get to the rest of the apartment, and the third roommate lived in a dark, windowless bedroom. Oh, and our other roommates – the cockroaches – enjoyed spending time in our kitchen and bathroom as well. But it was all part of the experience.
Regardless of the less than ideal living space, the first few months in the city were definitely thrilling as I bar hopped, received a pay check (albeit a small one), decorated my apartment, went out for work dinners and did other glittery New York City things. A year or two later, reality set in.
Let’s get things straight- I’m not saying that I didn’t have a dose of reality prior to that point. Nobody grows up without personal struggles and setbacks. I definitely had experienced difficult moments before. That being said, adjusting to a “grown-up” life after 4 carefree years of college was a bit of a shock.
After experiencing a love/hate relationship with my life in NYC for a bit, and after spending 3 years at my first post-college job (with Qlette Co-Founder, Emily), I started to feel lost. And I couldn’t shake that feeling no matter how well I was doing at work or how much fun I had on a Saturday night. Something was missing.
At that point, I left my job and decided to go to graduate school. Obtaining a Masters degree had always been a goal of mine and I’m happy I made that decision. I devoted myself entirely to school for that one year (as most people who go to graduate school do) and I did well.
After graduation, I thought that my new degree would enable me to immediately land the job-of-my-dreams even though I still had no idea what the job-of-my-dreams actually was. Wrong. I ended up having to move back home with my parents and lived at home for about 5 months during the painful job search. And what immediately came knocking on my door? Once again, those feelings of being lost.
During those months at home, I also experienced a few personal and family-related issues, making that time even more difficult. But, there was definitely something worthwhile that resulted from having my days and nights void of any job or social life whatsoever (besides hanging with my dogs). I had endless time to think.
Let me clarify that I don’t necessarily recommend creating a situation for yourself where you have endless time to think (unless you want to go crazy). What I mean is that carving out some time to reflect can be good thing. For me, it was during those moments that the Quarterlette idea was first conceived. And looking back now, I truly believe that if I did get a job right away and didn’t spend those 5 months miserably unemployed at my parents’ house, Quarterlette might not exist.
Although I had an initial idea, I still needed to find a real job and receive a paycheck. I eventually got a job that I was excited about and moved right back to New York City. Immediately after starting that job, however, I still wanted to bring the website vision to life on the side and realized that I would need a great partner to do so. That’s when I asked Emily to join me. It was an easy decision to make. Emily and I sat next to each other at work a few years prior, spending hours upon hours talking about everything from business ideas to dating disasters to what we wanted out of our lives. We had lots of experience working together so I knew that we would make a good team.
And so began our journey spending every weekend (and some week nights) further developing the concept and creating Quarterlette.com. After a year, we also ended up bringing on a fantastic Editor – Shelby – and we’re so happy to have her as part of our team.
I hope that you all love this site just as much as we do. I hope that – like our mission states – this platform provides you with a little support, guidance and inspiration during the quarter-life years. This time can be confusing and challenging (it definitely still is for me too!). But I believe that it’s important to try to embrace the uncertainty that comes during this stage, figure out what makes you happy (not everyone else) and be brave enough to create your own story. And, of course, utilize Quarterlette.com to help you navigate the way.
P.S. – Yes, that is an oversized bike in the photo above (the handlebar was as high as my head). I am short, but not that short.