Existential Turtle Time

A collection of adventures, reviews, and contemplation



17 Things I Learned in 2017

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2017 has had a particularly strong impact on me. It’s been a year of frustration and challenges, but all the low points have taught me valuable things about life and/or myself. Some lessons are more profound than others; here are 17 of the best that I’ve learned:
Continue reading “17 Things I Learned in 2017”


Premiere of the DETTAs

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This has been a year of incredible digital consumption. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is to be determined, but without a doubt, there is some stellar media that I believe deserves recognition. Welcome to the premiere of the DETTAs, or the Digital Existential Turtle Time Awards!  Continue reading “Premiere of the DETTAs”


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Dear Body,

I’m sorry I’ve malnourished you,
Deprived you of sleep and
ALL the things that you need,

Sacrificed you first when I was the
“Too busy” me,

Got mad when you didn’t look
exactly how I pleased.

Right now I’m awake,
Sitting up in my bed,
Unable to sleep from the food I’ve been fed
and the toxic idea I can
sleep when I’m dead.

I’ll be better, I swear.

A Visit to the World’s First Nutella Cafe

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A little under 2 months ago, the world’s first Nutella Cafe opened in Chicago! An avid Nutella fan (I’ve literally finished jars by the spoonful), I was beyond excited to check it out while I was still in the city. Continue reading “A Visit to the World’s First Nutella Cafe”

The Dilemma With My Career-Marriage-Family Timeline

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We all have one, right? I think for women especially, visualizing when we’d hope to get married, land our first real job, and have kids isn’t a novel idea. I call it the “career-marriage-family timeline,” and I’ve had one floating around in my brain for years. Continue reading “The Dilemma With My Career-Marriage-Family Timeline”

Money Water


My commute to work is a short, 10 minute walk in one direction. Along the way, I pass multiple eateries, clothing stores, Chicago’s largest public library, two pharmacies, and even a law school–all of this, squeezed into just 5 blocks worth of space.

I also pass over a dozen homeless people. Same path, same space. Every day.

Living in a city where encountering homeless people is the norm affects everyone differently. To some, it makes turning a blind eye a lot easier. To others, it evokes both pity and a desire to help. Personally, and a bit shamefully, I found myself experiencing a mix of both. Continue reading “Money Water”

Lessons From My Best Friend

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I’ve known my best friend since 4th grade. Technically we met in kindergarten, but 4th grade marks when we decided to sit next to each other for the first time and talk. A few months ago marked the 10 year anniversary of that day—our friendiversary, if you will. I am so incredibly grateful for the fact that she’s been in my life for an entire decade, and I can’t wait for the countless friendiversaries to come (cheesy, I know, but stick with me). From becoming god-friends of each other’s dogs to rejoicing in Contemplative Moon Time, I have learned so much from this wonderful human being. Below are a few of the life lessons she’s taught me over the years: Continue reading “Lessons From My Best Friend”

Don’t Mourn. Act.

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I never considered myself a political person until recently.

This was only the second time I had ever voted (my first was in the primaries), and trust me, there have been many opportunities for me to exercise this privilege since my 18th birthday. I abstained from local elections, never attended rallies, and generally steered away from political topics in conversation. While aware, I was passive. And when the new presidency was announced, I thought to myself, “Is there anything else I could’ve done?” even though I already knew. Complacency, at any point in the political process, has never been appropriate. Continue reading “Don’t Mourn. Act.”

The Guilt of Dropping Engineering

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This past summer, I decided to transfer out of my engineering school. The confrontation of my intense desire to, as well as the actual steps I took to do so, were all extremely emotional. My mind was racked with disappointment, sadness, and so much guilt. Was I being a cop-out? Was I tanking my future? Who, besides myself, was I letting down? Continue reading “The Guilt of Dropping Engineering”

Olympic Mindset

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I. LOVE. The Olympics.

Two days ago, I sat on my couch and finally tuned in to the most exciting international event of 2016: the Rio Olympics. I didn’t become a huge fan of the infamous games until 2012, when for the first time I witnessed the magnificence of Aliya Mustafina’s stage presence, the glow and optimism of Gabby Douglas, the grace of Aly Raisman’s floor routine, and the heartbreaking fate of Jordyn Wieber’s all-around potential. (If it wasn’t obvious already, gymnastics is my favorite sport to watch by FAR.) I would sit cross-legged on the floor with my cousin, late at night and barely a foot from the TV screen, avidly watching the gymnasts do the seemingly impossible. And if I still had it in me when the events were over—even after holding my breath and crossing my fingers during every pass—I’d stick around for the daily medal count and recaps. Continue reading “Olympic Mindset”

Lessons From My Sister


My sister is a role model, a teacher, a confidante, and an inspiration. I cannot stress enough how much she has shaped me, and if you’ve had the privilege of knowing her, then I’m sure that applies to you as well: wherever she goes, she makes an impact. Despite being only four years older, she’s acquired an incredible amount of wisdom. Below are some of the best things I’ve learned from her: Continue reading “Lessons From My Sister”

Lessons From My Mom


I swear, my mom is Superwoman. She has done absolutely everything to pave the best possible path for my sister and me, and I cannot thank her enough for being such an amazing caretaker and role model. Her sacrifices, her kindness, and her grace are unmatched by anyone I know. Below are just a handful of the many lessons she’s taught me: Continue reading “Lessons From My Mom”

Lessons From My Dad


Everyone in my family has blessed me with bits of wisdom to carry throughout my life. I haven’t always agreed with my dad, but I realize that without him, I would be an incredibly different person (and probably a much less productive one). As I think about the way our relationship has developed over time, I recall the many lessons he’s taught me, the best of which are below: Continue reading “Lessons From My Dad”


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I am at home right now
Sleeping in a room of relics and past dreams
You sleep in a different bed in every city.

I have a schedule now
I rise and dress and leave for the day
You never plan decisions and only do as you may.

I am silent now
By choice, by wish, I restrict what I share
You tell me everything because you believe I should care.

I am indifferent now
With all tenses, all choices
You still reek of past guilt and background noises.

But while I still ache
from things so long-gone
You never blinked an eye,
I wished I were as strong.

Growing Pains

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It’s an incredibly eye-opening experience, although subtle in its effects, when you separate your mind, emotions, and physical self from something that used to hurt you. You cannot see the changes immediately, and if you can, perhaps you’re trying too hard to search for consequences that need time to develop. Continue reading “Growing Pains”

The Dark Side of Proactivity

A friend and I were recently talking about habits, particularly ones we’d like to form. Of course on our lists were things like “drinking more water” and “exercising consistently,” but on a deeper level, I really wanted to work on being more proactive. Continue reading “The Dark Side of Proactivity”

A Year Ago Today

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A year ago today
I cannot remember clearly
The only thing in heart and brain
Is who I valued dearly

I think back on a year ago
Sigh past residual pain
Accept it, for it’s undeniable
Everything has changed.

Career Paths…Through the Ages

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Question: What do you want to be when you grow up?
4th Grade Natalie: A mix between a doctor, a tennis player, and a pro bass fisher!
5th Grade Natalie: Y’know…I wish there was a college degree for just “Dominating,” because I want to rule the world.
Junior Year (high school) Natalie: A CEO.
Freshman Year (college) Natalie: A physicist-computer scientist-engineer.
Present Natalie: *see 5th Grade Natalie’s response.*

But seriously, I have no idea what I want to do with my life anymore. Which is kind of scary, of course, but in an exciting way.

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