Figuring out how to adjust
I wish I was better at dealing with changes. How cool would it be to get plopped into a new situation and instantly fit in? Or I'd even settle with being able to go through time without comparing your current situation to past ones.
I moved to Arizona back in August. Leaving D.C. was by no means easy, but it wasn't particularly hard either. I knew that it was time for me to get out of there, but Tucson was such a random pick, that I often find myself wondering if I should have taken more time to make my decision.
Before the move, I'd only been out here once, and that was just for a job interview. That tends to be how I make major decisions: with tunnel-vision. When deciding where to go to school, I only looked at different academic programs; after graduation, I jumped right into the first job I was offered; when deciding where to move this past summer, again, I focused only on jobs. In retrospect, it comes from a place of wanting financial stability and more prominently, fearing a lack of it.
The logical side of my brain insists that it all makes sense; it's not like I have a safety net to rely on if things fall apart. But part of me wishes I didn't have to think that way. Maybe I'd have an easier time adjusting to new places if I was able to take a more holistic look at the situation before jumping in. All the major changes in my life seem to happen so quickly, that I'm never able to pause and reflect on a decision until it's too late to change my mind.
Honestly, I don't think it even occurred to me that people were able to do that before I went to college. College was my first time being around people who seemed to never worry about expenses. Whether it going abroad, spending breaks from school on vacations or taking a gap year, it always felt like there was a unique independence that belonged to those who could afford it. The world was theirs to explore, while I felt trapped just trying to get by.
I always tell people I was lucky to go to the school I went to and receive the education I received, but that discredits the ordeal of getting there in the first place.
I've always felt like I'm forced to rush to certain destinations in life. In high school, the focus was college. It wasn't enough just to get accepted, there was also the matter of financial aid. There was never the question of a gap year or applying regular decision. The only option was to pick one school and apply early, as the school's advisor said that was my best change to leverage a better scholarship. While I chose the school myself, it still felt like I was forced to pick. Once I submitted that application and got in, that was it. There was no chance to look at other options.
In college, the focus was graduating and doing it in three years with two degrees. Granted, I took full advantage of the "college experience" while I was enrolled in school, but that end goal was always looming over me. While I relied on scholarships to cover most of tuition, a small portion was taken care of by my college fund. That fund had an expiration date of three years. To accommodate for that, I took every AP class I could in high school and entered university with a handful of credits. My entire time at AU, I never took an elective course, ended up dropping a minor in economics and never looked at study abroad options, because I couldn't risk having to spend extra time in school. At the time, I told myself it would balance out with grad school- that getting my bachelor's degree so quickly would just give me more time for higher education.
After graduation, I jumped straight into work. My first job actually started one week prior to the graduation ceremony, so there was no downtime to refresh after a stressful year. Simply put, that job was not sustainable. It was part-time, paid less than minimum wage and didn't really further my career beyond the title. When I was offered my first full-time position, I jumped on it. Before accepting, I'd applied to over 70 positions- this was the only one I ever heard back from. It felt good to be salaried, and for the first time I felt like I was able to breathe.
A year later, I was ready for the next role. That's when I was offered the position in Tucson. It's also when I learned how expensive moving cross-country is. I boxed and mailed or sold off all of my belongings in one month, while still working full-time. There was no way I'd be able to afford the move if I didn't work every day I was able to. My last day of work in D.C. was on a Friday, I flew out on a Wednesday and had my first day at the new job on the following Monday. To this day, that one week off was the longest continuous break I have taken since before graduation.
In Tucson, I jumped right in to work and kept that my main focus. I didn't spend much time going around the city or trying to make friends. That's one of the hard things about being an adult that no one seems to tell you: making friends is HARD. Since I stayed in D.C. after college, I never had to really worry about meeting new people outside of my already-existing friend group. Arizona was completely foreign to me, and it still feels that way. I'm used to being the youngest person in the room, but it can make it a lot harder to form friendships with co-workers. Just because someone will talk to you in the office, doesn't mean they want to spend their weekends hanging out with a 21 (now 22) year old they barely know.
This move feels like the first thing I've done completely on my own. There's no continuity between living in Arizona and anywhere else I've been before. Yes, my friends are still supportive an amazing, and my boyfriend is always there if I need him, but none of them are here. There's no one to talk to when my shift ends, or to help hold up the other side the shelf when I'm trying to drill it into the wall, and sometimes that's really frustrating. A big part of me wishes I had slowed down when deciding where to live and looked at where I had pre-existing connections or taken more time out to focus on adjusting once I got here, but I'm here now. Which is where the adjusting kicks in. It hasn't been easy, but it has gotten better. I still wish there was a way to snap my fingers and have this feel like home, but even if things were that easy, I'm not sure I'd be happy. My dad tells me to take it one day at a time, and I think that's all I can do right now. It feels like I'm rewiring my brain to not rush through things. Instead of focusing on next steps and where I'm going after my two-year contract is up, I'm trying to appreciate where I'm at now.
Love it or leave it
I like lists. There's no particular time or instance that comes to mind that sparked this adoration of organization, but it's something that helps me focus my energy. I have entire notebooks dedicated to them: daily activity lists, packing lists, cleaning lists, financial lists... See even this is starting to become a list in itself.
But lists don't provide a solution. They're just a way to restructure thoughts and ideas- never actually decluttering. That's my resolution this year. My life just needs one big overhaul of clutter because my mind is starting to run out of space.
Last year, I don't think I had any real resolutions- it was more of a continuation of the previous year's goal: to stop being passive and do everything actively. Spending the past two years focusing on that resolution has been incredible. It pushed me to pursue my dreams whole-heartedly; it made me stop caring so much about rejection and the opinions of others; it taught me to embrace change; it allowed me to discover happiness within myself and my individual life choices. It's with that mindset already established, that I'm able to make progress on new personal ambitions.
Being an active participant in everything is so so rewarding, but it can also get exhausting- that's where this years resolution comes in.
I think I let everything pile up. By the time this year ended, I got so carried away doing everything that I wasn't taking the time to breathe.
It's the little things that seem to accumulate the easiest. Right now, my Spotify has 1,734 songs and 50 playlists saved, my college email (that I don't even use anymore) has 919 unread messages and my todo list is so long I've lost sight of getting anything done. I mean, there's 12 drafts of blog posts just waiting to be posted on this account alone.
So posting this finally (after writing it two weeks ago) is my first act of decluttering. TBD how the rest will go, but the first step is always the hardest.
At this point, I don't think it's possible for someone to have a conversation with me without my kittens being mentioned. Actually, hold on a sec, I'm putting a picture of them here so you understand how ridiculously cute Anna and Elsa are.
It's important to understand that I'm not a cat person. I don't really like cats and I never have, but Anna and Elsa are different. First of all, they're the two weirdest cats you'll ever meet. They like people and being pet, they never scratch or bite at anything and they listen to commands. So basically, I lucked out so so much.
Getting Anna and Elsa changed my perspective of the world. I think for so long I wasn't just lost and trying to figure out my purpose, but when you're alone, that can be hard. Having someone else to take care of and consider with all my decisions makes things simpler. I don't get lonely anymore. There's no "FOMO" feeling when I stay in on a Saturday night and come home straight after work. It's nice to feel needed. Granted, I know cats are pretty independent compared to other animals, they still rely on me to feed them and keep their space clean. As much as I feel like I need them, they also need me.
Not to say that I wasn't taking care of myself, but sometimes when you're gong through life, it just feels like every action is redundant, or even robotic. If I didn't feel hungry, I'd skip dinner, when I got home from work I'd get ready for bed and sit around or hang out with people. Having two little constant companions makes that a bit harder to do, but I'm honestly more than okay with that. I love coming home from work and having Anna and Elsa run to the door to greet me; I love knowing they'll curl up on my chest and purr when I'm asleep; I love knowing that I can throw toys around and play with then whenever I'm bored.
Now while there's lots of sunshine and rainbows, this wouldn't be a true blog post without a list telling you things that you only kinda want to know.
Five things I wish I knew before getting cats
Moving Forward and Feeling Stuck
I've been in a bit of a rut lately. It's hard to let go of things that you've grown used to. Imagine being told your whole life that the world is flat and then suddenly, science decides it's actually round. That's how I've been feeling.
Maybe I was too comfortable. Even when I was uncomfortable, I've always still had constants to cling to. Now, for the first time, I don't. Some days are harder than others. I miss going school, seeing my friends around campus and being surrounded by people my own age. People keep asking me how the "real world" is, but I haven't been able to give a good answer. I'm still trying to figure out where my "real world" is. Being a college graduate and working full-time at 20 is confusing. There's no happy-hours after work, and meeting people at the bar. Just a lot of work, sleep and Netflix nights.
Most importantly, I'm learning to change my attitude and perspective. Nothing is forever, but that doesn't mean you have to cling to things to make them stay. Sometimes you have to love knowing that it might not last forever, but that it'll be okay.
Telling myself that I'm going to be okay is sometimes the best way to calm down and embrace a situation. When I thought the rut I was stuck in would last forever, I pushed myself forward. It's like quicksand. You think you're sinking, but if you calm down, you float and it's not as deadly as we're made to believe in TV shows and movies.
I started focusing on moving forward last week. It was time to stop running away and learn to accept myself and the situations I was in. I'm so lucky to be where I'm at in life. Even if most of the time I feel lost and out of place, I am so, so fortunate. For the first time in recent memory, I'm not stressed out about finances. I have a job I love and people who support and encourage me to chase my dreams.
The best version of myself emerges when I'm taking care of others. I think for a while I thought I had to take care of other people, but recently I've learned there are alternatives. I'm adopting a pair of kittens this weekend. There are so many abandoned animals in the world, and I'm in a place where I'm stable enough to take care of a pair, so why not? Besides, I need some sweet kitty snuggles ASAP.
Sometimes it's hard to look at things and people I've lost along the way, but through it all, I've found myself and I'm learning to love her. So get ready for lots of cute kitty pictures and positive thoughts and vibes because that's where I'm putting my energy now.
Whoops, I graduated
Remember all those posts I was making last summer about how I was stressed out for my final year? Well it has come and gone, and I'm still not really sure how I feel about it.
I've always been the person who plans out everything meticulously. Whether it's a birthday party or a communications strategy, I'll always spend more energy planning something than actually carrying it out. Graduation was the same way. The past three years, I've had a plan about what I'd do throughout college- what clubs and activities I'd join, what internships I'd hold and when I'd graduate.
Needless to say, not all of those panned out. That's the scariest part about graduating; sometimes it feels like the only part of that I ever had control over was what classes I took. Now, even that's over.
A professor the other day told me that my resume reads more like someone who would be a producer than a reporter. If you know me, you know becoming a reporter is what I've been pushing during my entire time in college. That's when it hit me that graduating a year early might not be as lucrative as it had sounded in my head. All the big senior year internships ended up floating past me. I spend this past year focused on work and my studies, rushing to get out on time, instead of doing the "traditional" final semester strategy of only taking classes part-time and interning most days.
Last night, I realized that while this actually really sucks, it's kind of a done deal. It's up to me now to push a little harder and go out and make things happen for myself.
Sometimes, I think the hardest part of getting wrapped up in so many plans is that sometimes things happen that you can't control. I wish I could say college was the best three years of my life, but I don't think that's true. I grew and learned a lot, but there were things that made college possibly the hardest time of my life and if I could do it all over again, I won't. Maybe all that would have been negated if I'd spent a fourth year at American University. I could have graduated with two degrees, instead of just two majors, or picked up a minor in Econ, like I'd initially wanted to do.
It's easy to focus on the negative. Recently, I've noticed that I spend way too much time dwelling on the past and things that can't be changed. Every time summer rolls around, I get caught in a spiral of thinking about what I could have done better during the school year- papers I should have started earlier, office hours appointments I shouldn't have skipped, internships I should have applied for- and while in the past this has motivated me, now I just have to learn to accept it and move on. Nothing is ever perfect, or even as perfect as we want it to be.
This is going to sound so cliche, but I've realized that life's journey works out in funny ways, and sometimes you just have to hold on and trust that the universe has your best interests at heart.
Looking back, I've accomplished so many things. I hosted a college radio show, interviewed Michael Phelps, wrote about women in politics and energy policy, was the Managing Editor for a project that was featured on NBCWashington.com and brought light to a variety of stories involving the #MeToo movement and created my own company.
If you told me three years ago that any of those things would have happened, I wouldn't have believed you. Not because I didn't think I was capable of doing them, but because none of those were on my plan. When I came to AU, I thought I had everything planned out. I would join the TV News team, every semester I'd be on the Dean's List, I was going to intern at the Washington Post and Politico ... none of those things happened, and that's okay. Maybe it would have come together this year, but I'll never know, and I can't waste my life thinking about what could have been.
So now that you've read my ramblings about everything this year, here are my final pieces of collegiate advice:
So go forth and prosper or whatever that phrase is. I'm going to stay here and spend the next hour on LinkedIn trying to figure out my life.
An hour ago, I told myself that I'd start working on my assigned Tocqueville reading that's due this week in my American Political Thought class. Since then, I've managed to Facebook stalk everyone I know, send 50 text messages and stare at a crack in the ceiling.
The worst part of all this is that I actually really enjoy studying politics, and I find Democracy in America to be absolutely fascinating, I just have this thing against doing mandatory things.
In high school, I realized that I loved reading most of the assigned literature books, but only if I didn't read them for class. The second something became a mandatory assignment, my procrastination skills kicked in and my interest was completely drained.
Isn't that in itself an example of American political thought at work?
There's this tiny source of satisfaction that comes from rebelling. I feel it every time I tell people that I've never watched Game of Thrones, or when I dye my hair a new color (despite my mom's protests). It's this sense of nonconformity. Anyone can do what everyone else does or follow along with what they're told, but it takes a true intellectual to actively do the opposite.
In all fairness, this isn't always to my benefit. The clearest example I can think of is my relationship with the TV show Glee.
When I was in seventh grade, everyone told me that I should watch Glee. As someone who loved music, comedy and theater, I fit perfectly into the show's target audience. There was only one problem: people kept telling me to watch it (which clearly meant that I couldn't).
By the time I finally gave in and started watching it, the first season was already half done and I spent an entire weekend desperately struggling to get caught up. After that, you would think that I wouldn't let myself make such a mistake again and that I would give up my low-key rebellious streak. Unfortunately, it didn't end there.
Writing this post has taken me an additional half hour on top of the two hours I've already spent procrastinating completing my Tocqueville reading. I'll probably start it in a little bit, or not, as long as it's mandatory, I'll push it back as much as I can.
Winter highlights: DC edition
I'm a CEO now?
Every time I think I'm solid on the path that life is taking me on, something flips and everything changes. This week is a testament to that.
Last semester, I signed up for a media entrepreneurship class on a whim. The first day of class, we were told to brainstorm ideas for the final project, a business pitch for a hypothetical media company. I quickly jolted down that I'd want to create something having to do with radio or podcasting.
As the semester continued, I grew the hypothetical company. I conducted independent research, held focus group testing, interviewed potential stakeholders and came up with a business plan. I have a bad habit of getting detached from things I work on for a long period of time. I think that's why I like journalism so much; before I get tired of a story, I've already moved on to covering the next one. The same thing happened with my final project. People kept getting excited about it, but I began to loose interest and doubt my concept.
During the final presentations, I was shocked to be named the winner by a judging panel of esteemed media entrepreneurs. I was told by one that I shouldn't let the idea slip away, and that I should pursue turning my hypothetical company into a real one.
Over winter break, having never taken a business class before, I signed up to be considered for a spot in an entrepreneurship incubator. The AUCI Incubator essentially temporarily houses businesses and helps them grow with monetary, legal and business assistance. When they told me that I'd made it to the interview and pitch stage, I was shocked. When they sent me an email saying I'd been offered a highly selective spot in the incubator for the next year, I was speechless.
I think I'm still in the phase of processing it all. I've spent this entire year preparing for a career in journalism. I never thought that I'd have my own company. In my head, I keep running through a list of things that make me unqualified for this role. It feels like this is all a dream, and none of it is actually happening. I know I've put a lot of hard work into this, but I'm just waiting for the point when it all snaps and falls apart. To top it all off, I'm only 20 years old. I can't even legally drink, yet somehow I'm running a business?
The scariest thing was sharing it on Facebook with everyone. I posted and just waited to see how people reacted, knowing that now if I failed, they would all know.
To be honest, the amount of support I received astounded me. I wasn't expecting so many people to reach out to me and ask about the company and how they could get involved. I know it's just in the beginning stages right now and PodcastMe (my company) is still developing, but I'm excited to see what happens. There's really no way of knowing what will happen, but I can still do my best to make sure I'm doing every thing I can to make my first company a success.
If you want to know more about PodcastMe, you can check out the following:
The Last Hurrah
I broke a stress ball yesterday.
Thanksgiving break has rolled around and I feel more lost than I was when the semester began. Frankly, I've never had all aspects of my life reaching their full potential at the same time. Right now my social life is pretty A+, school is going great but professionally, I'm slacking. There's a sold chance I'll drop dead if I have to draft another cover letter.
I feel conflicted most of the time about whether I'm too old or too young for things. Full disclaimer: I realize 20 isn't old. For the point I'm at in my life, I feel like I should be much older. Graduation is coming a year sooner than it's supposed to, and I'm not really ready to say goodbye to college just yet. Honestly, that's why I started applying to grad schools; I'm just struggling to let go. Three years ago, when my dad dropped me off at the airport, he told me that he had a feeling college was going to be the four best years of my life. It's been two and a half years now, and even though there have been ups and downs and lots of in-between phases, it's been the adventure I've always wanted.
It's easy to look back with regrets: I should've studied abroad, or taken more business classes and maybe dropped that political science major to a minor, but at the end of the day I'm happy with how things worked out. My mom always told me that the secret to success is finding a team of like-minded individuals, and I think I did that. Through incredible teacher and learning opportunities, the friendships I found in my sorority and just the experience of being a college student in Washington, D.C., there's nothing I would change if I could go back and do it all again.
Sometimes I think back to who I was three years ago. It seems like a lifetime has passed since then. The person I am today is exactly who I've always wanted to be, but I think on some level, I'm still worried that that's not enough. Maybe that's a good thing. The tattoo on my ribs translates to "Do more, be more," and so maybe I just need to remember that fire I have inside me and use it to push myself in this final lap.
"The last hurrah," is what I keep calling this year, but that's ignoring that I have a lifetime of adventures ahead of me. A year from now I could be living anywhere, doing anything and looking back on my senior year in college as just another stepping stone. I'm not really sure where I'll be five years from now. This is just the beginning of something incredible, and I'm not going to risk closing my eyes and missing a second of it.
I know at the end of the day, everything will work out, but I have a feeling there's going to be a couple more broken stress balls before that happens.
Senior Year Hits Hard
I'm two months into my final eight months of college. The idea of completing this leg of my life journey is absolutely terrifying. I think I've reached total panic mode at this point. I just turned 20, and soon I'm going to be expected to be a real adult and go into the "real world."
I actually hate it when people use that phrase, though I do it myself much more than I'd like to admit. If the real world is what happens after graduation, what universe do we exist in now? I've never felt like I had it particularly easy in college, maybe it's because I'm one of those obnoxiously overambitious students, but for the first time, I'm worrying about what I'll do when I graduate. Up until this point, everything has been clearly laid out for the most part: go to school, graduate, go to college- but what comes next? There's an entire world that I haven't explored yet. There's so many things I wish I'd learned.
To be honest, I love school. I love going to classes, talking to professors, studying in the library- I don't know what it is, there's just something about being at school that feels comfortable. I guess a good way to describe it would be safe. It's easy, just follow the rules, do your work and everything will turn out okay. Sometimes I worry my tunnel vision of getting through school was a weakness instead of an asset through. Yes, it's the reason I'm getting out of AU in three years instead of four and graduating with two majors, but everything comes with a cost. I wish I'd taken more science and math classes. I'm not planning to go into any fields that would require me to really look at numbers or formulas, but I just wish I'd taken the time to learn as much as I possibly could.
Some of the classes that I've enjoyed the most have been the optional ones. The one-credit yoga class, creative writing and media entrepreneurship were some of the highlights of my college academic experience, yet I only was able to get my feet wet. It's tragically unfortunate that we can't stay in school forever, major in everything and just live a life filled with knowledge and information. There's a professor I once had who said you never stop learning, even after school. I really hope he's right. The worse situation for me post-graduation would be sitting in an office doing the same thing day after day, but I fear I'll find myself doing just that.
It's very easy for me to get bored. Maybe that's why I'm so into fidget spinners right now. I just worry that I'll get bored of my career the same way I got bored of softball when I was in fourth grade, or political science when I was two years into majoring in it.
Senior year hits hard. Everyone always tells you you have all the time in the world, but when you're a senior you realize that time's running out. It's when you realize you might be saying goodbye to people for real, when you start detaching yourself from the place you've been living for the past three years and when you start seeing all the things you missed out on that it starts to get scary.
Graduating in three years means I'm missing out on a year of the "college experience," which i know sounds really dumb, but it's true. There's one less year of getting to be reckless without thinking of the consequences. Someone once told me nostalgia is supposed to be a happy feeling, but I've come to realize that there's a sharp side to it too.
Right now, I'm not letting myself get caught up in it. It'd be easy to wallow and detach myself from everything and everyone to make leaving easier, but then I'd regret missing out on my senior year. Honestly, I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say with this post. I guess I"m trying to spark a self-fufilling prophecy: This year will be the best so far, but the best is always yet to come.