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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
It's been a little while since I've had the time to post on here, but as you can tell by the title, the end of summer is upon us. When I began this summer, I didn't have the highest expectations. To be honest, I had no way of being able to know all the incredible things I would go on to experience. So to fill y'all in, here are the things I did this summer and what I learned from them:
Your girl here managed to juggle work, an internship and volunteering. I ended up dropping the Nordstrom position pretty quickly so that I'd be able to accept positions that more practically lent themselves to my long-term goals. If there's one important thing I learned from that, it's that life is too short to let a good opportunity slip away.
This summer, those opportunities came in the form of a promotions assistant position at iHeartRadio and a creative services internship at CW11- KSTW.
I learned a lot of things about myself in those roles. For example, I LOVE having coworkers who I can talk to. At both positions, I found I produced much better work and had way better days when I worked with people who I could bounce ideas off of or joke around with to pass the time when things slowed down. Also, when I worked with people who genuinely cared about what they were doing- whether they were trying to get their foot in the door with radio, or were counting on promotional videos we produced to be included on their reel.
At iHeartRadio, I realized how much fun it can be to interact with people. Getting to talk to listeners of the different radio stations and see them get excited about things made each shift I worked seem to fly by.
The best advice I received about this job was to make every interaction the best it possibly can be. You want to imagine that the booth you're working at has your name on it. You want the people who walk away from it to say to their friends that they had a great time at "Aubrey's Booth" (or whatever your name is). I think this applies to a lot of things in life. Treat everything you do like it's branded with your name. It doesn't matter what company you work for or who you represent, you want to make every interaction as positive as possible. The other day, someone I work with told me that I have the ability to get people excited about nothing and that has to be the best feedback I've ever received.
At CW11- KSTW, I learned a lot about trial and error. Some good ideas just don't make good scripts, and even though it sucks throwing out something you worked on, it's best to just learn how to bounce back quickly. I think the act of writing so much about a relatively narrow topic (CW TV shows) made me learn how to think of more ideas and write much quicker. By the end of my internship, I was able to come up with ideas and turn them into blog post and scripts in a matter of hours. I also got the other intern to admit that I have a great sense of humor, which was a highlight.
DJ-assisting at KEXP also introduced me to another aspect of the music industry. I learned about the importance of preparation and being able to quickly think on your feet when things don't work out. While a lot of things can be improvised, it's always easier to at least have the majority of a playlist predetermined.
Like I always tell people, I'm lucky I got hot in college because it forced me to develop a good personality and sense of humor in high school. I think I really started to come into my own this summer though. I focused on staying body-posi and wearing what makes me happy. As of right now, it's unclear how I'll manage to fit all my new clothes in my suitcase to take back to D.C., but I'm sure I'll find a way to make it work.
After years of struggling with body image, I found myself happy with the way I looked for the first time I can remember. I've really focused on hydrating and staying active this summer. Even though I haven't ran as much as I'd hoped to, I've opted for walking and public transportation whenever possible (save the planet yo). A really awesome habit that I've gotten into is going on walks. After meals, or when I'm just bored, I slip my headphones in and do a few laps around the park up the street from me. I've also gotten back into the habit of stretching when I'm sitting around, which is something I can't recommend highly enough. Life is tiresome and your body carries you through it, so it's important to show it some love by stretching out sore muscles.
During the school year, I was dealing with lots of health issues, and it felt great to spend some time healing and getting better this summer. I think it's easy to get wrapped up in the fast pace of the world, but sometimes it feels good to slow down and take the time to heal before moving forward. I'll have more on this in another post, but for now, just know know things are really good.
ALSO: If you haven't already seen all my instagram posts of my new tattoo, I got a new tattoo!!! I always said I'd get some super meaningful ink one day, and this one is it. Honestly, I couldn't be happier with the work that was done. I had Marco over at Hidden Hand in Fremont, Seattle do it and it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen and perfectly encompuses all the different elements that I wanted!
I finally got around to podcasting! I've been meaning to get into it for a while now, so I'm super excited to be branching into having my own podcast now. After months of deliberation, the title will be Blondetourage and it'll mostly just be me and my friends/sister talking about life and things going on. I promise I'm kinda funny so people should all definitely listen to it! The first couple episodes are really short, but I'll be starting a new tab on this website for it so be sure to check it out!
Going forward: Fall 2017 and onward
I go back to Washington, D.C. to begin my senior year in ten days. It's weird to think that I'm almost done with college and this stage of my life is ending, but I'm so excited to finally be in the "real world." Nothing is solidified for post-graduation yet, but I know I want to try to get a position on-air for a radio station. Right now, I'm looking into small towns across the East Coast and West Coast (sorry people in the middle area but I need to be in a state with ocean-access).
Something I'm super psyched about that's coming up is BMOC, which is my sorority's annual fall philanthropy event. This fall, I will be co-chairing the event with my roommate/best friend Ali and I'm just thrilled to be able to give back to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, which has given me so much in the past. This means I'm getting ready to spend the next month and a half freaking out over finding sponsors and people to donate, as well as coordinating a pageant. I'm sure everything will be amazing though!
I never thought I'd be at this point in my life at age 19 and that I'd already have achieved so much before my 20th birthday, but the world is an amazing place full of incredible opportunity and I can't wait to explore them all. Hopefully y'all stick around for the next leg of this journey and all the legs that come after (even though it might be weird if I have more than two legs). Enjoy your summers, soak up some sun and eat ice cream for me!