The Classics // What Motivates You?

top // jeans // bag // heels

If you’ve been reading here for a while you know I’m a big advocate of classic style and pieces you can wear and rewear forever… so you might be surprised to see that I’ve never (at least I don’t think) worn a classic white button down here! I love the idea of a crisp white shirt, tucked in… but in my everyday I’m a little bit of a mess and move around a lot and they always become untucked and I end up looking sloppy. Enter this bodysuit. It’s amazing, AND it comes in tall sizes which you know I love.

Anyway, today I have a question for you! What motivates you? I was talking to my friend about life/work/etc. over the weekend and we got to this topic and (maybe this is too intense for a blog post, haha!). I knew my answer immediately, and think it’s both good and bad. The first thing that motivates me is probably what most people would say: in everything I do, I want to do the best possible job I can. I am a perfectionist and don’t want to do something if I can’t do it well. That being said, I am also pretty intensely motivated by a fear of failure. My gut tells me that a lot of self-employed people would say this too but I’m still really curious to hear what you all say. My biggest fear really (outside of losing a family member), would be that I wouldn’t get to do this for a living anymore. That I would become obsolete; that people would stop reading; and that I’d have to get another desk job (there is nothing wrong with that, I just love what I do so much and also really don’t want to have a boss). Of course I have savings but I don’t have family money or a husband to help out – if I were to fail at this, I’d have to get another job. That fear is what pushes me to be the best I can at this, to keep learning and growing new channels (like email newsletters, Youtube or podcasting), and to create the best content I can.

Anyway yeah, that felt a little intense to write out, but I really am curious. What motivates you at work, or in life? And if you are motivated by fear, how do you harness that?

Outfit Details: J.Crew Bodysuit (wearing a size 6 tall) // J.Crew Belt (old, this is similar) // Re/Done Jeans // BaubleBar Earrings (c/o) // Pamela Munson Bag (c/o) // Manolo Blahnik Pumps // Polaroid Sunglasses

On a much lighter note, there is a new episode up of our NEW podcast, Young Adulting!!! The support has been amazing so far – launching was a little scary and we didn’t know if people would actually listen!

In today’s episode, we go DEEP on The Selection (this week’s book). We also discuss our highs + lows from the week, a few good beauty products AND our must-follow Instagram accounts. So pop on over and download it, join in the book discussion in the Young Adulting Facebook Group, and if you like it, spread the word and/or leave us a review in iTunes (that reallllly helps – I hate asking but it makes such a difference)!

PS – I know we had a weird audio issue (if you listen with headphones)… we fixed that!

Pamela Munson spoils me. She’s become an internet friend of sorts (I don’t follow very many brands on Instagram but I love her feed as it’s full of vintage photos and cool inspiration) I featured her here, last year, in this post (need to bring this series back!!!) and she loved the post and sent me this bag, which I wore in this post. And this year she was kind enough to freshen up my wardrobe with this bucket bag… in my favorite color!

The quality of her bags is always really really good, and I looove the braided texture of the straw – there isn’t anything else out there like it! I will say (and this is not a complaint about the brand, more of a warning to not be a-hole with your stuff like me) – don’t overload the bags. Last year, I used my tote as a carry on and FILLED it to the brim with heavy stuff – my laptop, camera, books, and so on and so forth) which was a huge, stupid mistake – the ribbon was never the same (even after steaming it, which I recommend if your bows become wrinkled/haphazard), and there was a little tearing at the top. It can be tempting to take a straw bag as your carry-on when you travel somewhere warm, but now I always pack mine in my suitcase as filling them with all that stuff is just too hard on them (I am rambling now but this is top of mind as I ruined another straw bag by using it as a carry-on for Cartagena. Fail.)

photography by Trent Bailey.


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Leave a Comment


  1. I’m just like you – I’m motivated by a fear of failure. I’ve always grown up with this immense self-pressure to be perfect and to chase perfection, which sucks. No one’s even pressuring me except myself! I guess it comes with high expectations?

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    4.4.18 Reply
  2. sharon:

    I would love to say that the fear of failure is no longer what motivates me but I would be lying. Realistically, I think for many of us perfectionists, wanting to always do our best/ fear of failing not meeting expectations is probably something that is always going to be there. I have learned to be ok with that while making some changes to how I approach things. I used to have to give 100% to everything and everyone…. a few years ago, I lost my mom to cancer and while she was ill, I had to let some things go and I watched while some people in my life picked up where I left off and some just did not. It has reframed who I give 100% too and who I do not. Over the last few years, another motivator for me as been the opportunity to learn something new or expand my horizons. I try as much as I can to no longer just do things that are going to “take” from me without giving me anything in return. This has changed what I say yes to, what I do in my spare time, who I spend time with etc.

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    • I love that last one; the opportunity to learn something new/expand your horizons. That definitely motivates me as well!!

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    • I’m so sorry about your mom.

      I do identify with having to let things go- my dad currently has cancer & one of my good friends was also taking care of her mother with cancer at the same time. We would talk a lot about how we both have to let some things go & be okay with that, as well as leaning on others to pick up some of those pieces. It’s amazing when you go through something like that to see who just disappears & who you can rely on.

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      • sharon:

        I am so sorry Kellie. Will be thinking of you.

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  3. I’m going to ignore the deep question as I’m trying to figure that out all too much right now 🙂 and ask the superficial question — I know you’re a bit curvy, too, but it looks like it stays buttoned well? Are you just wearing a regular bra underneath? tl;dr, I can never find a button-down that doesn’t gap, and so I am v curious about this one!

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    • It’s totally fine. And yes regular bra. But my shirts don’t usually gap. Maybe just size up and get it tailored if it’s gapping?

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  4. What a great question! I wrote a giant answer & then deleted it to try to summarize it- obviously it got me thinking!

    I’m motivated a lot by not wanting to let anyone down or disappoint them. In my personal life it’s that factor of being a role model to my kids but also trying to be there for them while being a working mom. I also don’t want to disappoint my husband, which sounds ridiculous but since he’s always been the one more on top of things it’s been a motivator to get my act together (habits like not running late all the time!).

    At work I also don’t want to let my students or coworkers down. I also have that fear of not being good enough. It’s not always been a useful fear (like when I was going to be a music major!) but for teaching I think it’s worked well in that I’m always trying to be better. It’s pushed me to try new things & work on my lessons every year versus being content to rely on what I’ve done previously. I think because it’s not a competitive field that the fear has worked in my favor!

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  5. Erika:

    Love this body suit! Did you get this piece in tall because you are on the taller side or because you have a longer torso?

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    • both! I’m 5’8 but also have a long torso. Also j.crew’s shirts are notoriously boxy/short so I only buy their tops if they have ’em in tall.

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  6. LOVE these photos, Grace. Nothing beats a classic look and those jeans are amazing!
    Also, I think I’m motivated by success. If I’m succeeding, I’m motivated to DO more, push my limits, and so on. When I see other people’s successes, I tell myself, “You can succeed like that too.” I wouldn’t necessarily say fear motivates me, mostly because I feel really secure in where I’m at in life.

    PS: THIS IS A BODYSUIT?!!!!! Unreal. Ordering now.

    The Champagne Edit

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  7. That bag is ADORABLE! I, like you, am motivated by the essence of my perfectionism. I think that this goes hand in hand with the fear of failure for all of us that are this way. But I try my best not to think about it in that sense and just think that I’m doing the most to be the best I can be at whatever goal I’ve set for myself. Beautiful post.
    Maria Eugenia ☀

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  8. Cory:

    Every time I see you in those jeans, I get more and more tempted by them. They are SO GOOD!

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  9. MarciaMarciaMarcia:

    I am motivated by wanting to be productive and make a positive difference in the world, even in small ways. I try to follow things that make me curious or excite me, and I try to take any opportunities that occur to me to brighten someone else’s day. I truly believe we all have our own unique purpose for being here and for being who we are, and we owe it to world not to hide our light, while also encouraging others to let their own unique lights shine brightly.

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  10. I recently left a very secure, capital “J” JOB in Boston in order to live on a beautiful little island with my husband and pursue my cello performance/blogging life full-time. For the first 5 years of our relationship, we were both bringing in really decent money, so there was always enough to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Now, he has to use part of his salary to support me and that means that he can’t do whatever he wants with his income anymore. THAT is a big factor in what motivates me. Similar to you, I am afraid that if I don’t work hard enough and do well enough at this, then a) I’ll have to stop doing what I love and b) his sacrifices will have been for nothing.
    The 2nd part is that I am passionate about making classical music “normal” for people. It’s not weird. It’s not something that only snobby geeks do, it’s not something that you have to know anything about. It’s just beautiful music that everyone can relate to and enjoy. So, I know that with every blog post I write and every concert I play, I’m getting that message out to a few more people, and that keeps me going too. Love following you, and if you see me waving to you in Charleston this weekend, I’m not stalking you, I swear! I just have some concerts there (& have fun with your parents! 🙂

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  11. Elissa:

    I really love this question because it forces me to think about what truly drives & energizes me as an individual. I’ve been asked this question on countless occasions but never actually dedicated enough time to really mull over it. While it may sound trite, I am very much intrinsically motivated. I derive a tremendous amount of satisfaction after completing a challenging/ time consuming project or task or helping others in some way. As an educator I thrive in seeing my learners succeed post-training. Being present and consistently ‘showing up’ for the people in my life, knowing so much as a simple ‘How are you today?’ can make THEM feel cared for and valued in spite of whatever personal struggles they’re dealing with, is for me, deeply rewarding. I am inherently an empath and am very much impacted by other people’s energies & emotions. From a young age I’ve always aimed to make others feel safe and comfortable and warm, sometimes to a fault. But knowing something I said or did (even organizing or tidying up to help manifest a calm and productive environment) for someone could produce some sort of positive outcome is what really influences me. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate some recognition for the efforts. We’re only human!

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  12. Jessica:

    Omg can I just say I LOVED the Grace’s 8 series would love to see that brought back!!!

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  13. Lisa:

    Wow, I love the white button-down! I’ve been on the hunt for a good one, so thank you for posting this!

    What motivates me… I was thinking about this as I was walking my pup. What motivates me is the desire to live a balanced, fulfilling, fun, stimulating, full… life, so that actually encompasses a lot! Great question, keep up your thoughtful posts! 😉


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  14. I’m motivated by my family, good music, and seeing the positive impact of service by others in my life.

    Happy Thursday

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