Turning Twenty-Six

June 9th, 2020
Location  •   Essex, Connecticut
Turning Twenty Six | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

Last week, on Monday, to be exact, I turned twenty-six! Now usually my birthday is something I love to celebrate with you all, kicking it off with my annual birthday post – which is always fun to look back on ( turning twenty-two, turned twenty-four and turning twenty-five here) then continue the week with festive posts – however, this year was a little different.

In light of everything going on within our nation and with the continued outbreak of COVID-19 around the world, we decided to put all of our content on hold to stand in solidarity with the black lives matter movement and community. I spent the last week listening and educating myself about the events going on around our country. Naturally, I’ve never been one to speak just to hear myself talk – and during this time I really wanted to take a step back and let those who are more informed than myself, those within the black community and those who are better educated on this topic – to speak up so I could listen and learn while not cluttering this space with reposts. 

Personally, it didn’t feel right to even acknowledge my birthday on this platform as my heart was focused on compassion, love, and more for those who’ve faced injustice firsthand. As I progress forward with posting New England content I want to commit to seeking new things to share with you all – whether that means sharing any educational resources I find insightful or spending the time to research and showcase more New England restaurants and stores to spread the awareness to more small businesses across all New England states instead of just Connecticut. Overall The Coastal Confidence has always been a place for me to share the charms and traditions of New England living and New England’s lifestyle will continue to be my main focus. However, I hope we can learn and grow together to make this world a more loving place! 

Now I usually like to spend my birthday post looking back on what happened over the last year and reflecting on the triumphs and the lessons learned.

With all of us spending a lot of time reflecting I decided to do exactly that as I turned twenty-six with a look back on my last three birthday posts. On further examination, I instantly noticed a common theme- taking too much on in hopes of diversifying to more than just an online platform.

Every year seemed to be a straight path of working, growing, and fostering the blog as I brainstormed ways to expand beyond just that. Yet this year, was anything BUT linear – as many of you could agree. I finally was able to expand my career beyond the blog and with some big life changes today as I enter twenty-six I’m feeling a new emotion I’ve never felt before – CONTENT.

For a long time, I felt being content was a negative thing but after this year, being content is something I yearn to be every day. Simply put, feeling content is defined in the dictionary as being satisfied, happy, and at peace. How I ever thought this was negative, is beyond me but today I’m sharing how I came to this new viewpoint:

Moving Into Our First Home

On my twenty-fifth birthday, Matt and I moved into our New England fixer-upper. At first and for a few months, I was anything BUT content. Honestly, it felt so odd living in this house we’d been working on for so long. I account this to the fact that I spent so much time hands-on with the interior renovation, that any ding in the drywall or scratch on the floor – had me fixated at an unhealthy level. In the end, it just took time to settle in and feel at home and not critical of the renovation job we did.

Today I have to admit I couldn’t be more content, satisfied, happy, and at peace with our home. Truthfully each and every day it’s been one of the things I’ve been most grateful for during this quarantine.

Purchasing Mr. Trophy

Back in November, my Dad and I purchased Mr. Trophy together – which I have to say is probably my biggest accomplishment of 25! I finally accomplished my goal of moving my career beyond the digital space – and enjoyed that I got to build a completely new brand in an unfamiliar industry. Purchasing Mr. Trophy has pushed me to a whole new understanding of hard work, entrepreneurship, and strategy.

From learning to manage employees of all levels to teaching myself how to build out a fully customizable website, I certainly had my hands full. At times I pushed myself past the breaking point but I have to say, I couldn’t be more thankful for my Dad for purchasing Mr. Trophy with me. I’ve always dreamed of working with my Dad and getting to tackle this huge industry shift and watch how innovative he is in finding new product categories to pivot our business when COVID-19 struck was godsent.

Overall stepping outside of the digital world career-wise has been exactly the change I needed for my mental health along with being a continuation of my goal of fostering local Connecticut businesses.

Building Out mrtrophyshop.com

Oh boy – I always say this website stole my youth and what felt like a kidney. This project took just about everything out of me, with an original launch date of January 1st we FINALLY, on April 27th, soft-launched mrtrophyshop.com and haven’t looked back. We still have a long way to go with this site – for example trying to figure out how to integrate it into a Point Of Sales platform for in-store and inventory miniaturization is just one example. Yet if I’ve learned one thing it’s that launching – even before you’re ready, helps you learn where to improve and where errors occur.

Sometimes feedback can be tough – especially when you feel so invested in a project. Yet I have to admit I would have never been able to soft-launch mrtrophyshop.com so successfully if it wasn’t for that feedback and my sisters – Sarah & Tessa, Matt, and Tessa’s boyfriend John for all their help. From importing data to helping with SKU numbers and product categorization – these guys helped me pull off a workable site that’s been so useful to our customers and employees during COVID-19.

On that note, I hope next year I can look back and report all the innovations, sales goals and failures we overcame to make mrtrophyshop.com even better. Finally, I would also like to thank our customers who have been super patient with the site, and I couldn’t be more thankful for their support and feedback.

Spiraling Into A Crash

Before COVID-19, quarantine, and the protests – way back in February, I was not in a good place and I think it’s important for me to acknowledge that as I head into twenty-six.

I was running full-steam ahead into what felt like a never-ending cycle of overworking. With my blog running full-steam ahead, Mr. Trophy in-store business picking up – as what was supposed to be our busy season, spring sports and 2020 graduations, approached – and my fears coming to fruition when an app update went wrong crashing the almost done mrtrophyshop.com website.

Honestly, I was in the midst of spiraling into a crash – just when I thought, it couldn’t be going any worse, until COVID-19 appeared. Out of what felt like thin air a worldwide pandemic released what felt like the impossible a few days earlier – a total economic shutdown. This shutdown while devasting to both of my businesses, my personal income, and our business season at Mr. Trophy – did allow me the clarity and the wake up called I mentally needed. If you’d like to hear more about this personal experience or how we pivoted during COVID-19, I wrote a whole blog post about it here.

Quarantine

I have to say, I certainly didn’t foresee spending my 26th birthday in quarantine but as I said earlier – I’m really content!

Truly I’m just happy to have been able to spend my birthday with my family, Matt, and his parents. Quarante has been an unseen opportunity to really pause and reflect on ourselves and our so-called life-plans. Truly it’s mindblowing looking back on my birthday post from this time last year and even scrolling through my 2020 goals – reading all the hopes but really the EXPECTATIONS I set for myself heading into twenty-five and 2020.

Both posts are filled with the hopes of travel plans, to California and Europe, obviously, I had no concept of a travel ban in my mind. Followed up by aggressive financial goals for myself, to pay off a chunk of our mortgage and focus on investments – again with no concept of an impending recession and economical shutdown. Looking back at my wants, needs, and dreams as I turned twenty-five and even those wants, needs, and goals I was had a few months ago as we headed into 2020 – feels so far off now. For once I really see, feel and acknowledge a new level of personal growth – which I believe we’re all going through together at the moment.

Overall so much has changed and the world looks different in a good and shocking way – this summer will be concerts-less, baseball season is no more and face masks are now an accessory you grab while running out the house – like a pair of sunglasses in summer. Things have certainly changed but with change comes perspective and amplifies my feeling of content – being satisfied, happy, and at peace.

For Once – Feeling Content.

In the past, I’d say I never really felt content with where I was. Maybe that’s a bold statement but inherently I’ve always been restless and looking towards the next move and then the move after that. Never being present and truly never satisfied or at peace with fleeting happiness.

In high school, I felt the need to leave New England which resulted in my move to California, soon after that my move to Dallas, and soon after that my move back to Connecticut. Spending seven-plus years on the move, created a mindset of constantly having to be in motion to move forward and see progress.

Whether that meant traveling to create content or just moving apartments, homes, or careers – I always felt like I had to make a big change or a big move to feel satisfied but this year, specifically in the last three months, I’ve learned how to feel content with just being in one place for a considerable amount of time. Being forced to quarantine – made me mindfully have to take a step back from the day-to-day busy routine, and focus on being home and staying safe – really gave me perspective.

I mean at the end of the day, I’m now really content with just being at home with Matt, Eloise, and my family. For once I’m looking forward to a slow summer, a summer staying safe, and staying at home – a summer which once would have given me much anxiety. All and all I’ve learned to realize not every piece of content I create needs to be shot at a picturesque New England location, sometimes pictures on the porch or in our home are just as picturesque and more personal than the levels of stress I placed on myself to overproduce.

Overall I’m really looking forward to twenty-six… hopefully it’s the year of settling into my new job at Mr. Trophy and really watch mrtrophyshop.com take off – fingers crossed. I’m also excited to get comfortable with being content and most importantly being happy for the little things like health, safety, and finally getting to visit all the small businesses in New England that I love – like coffee shops, lobster shacks, and country stores!

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