Swimming In Grace Again

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Image by C. Glowacki.

After a long day at work last week, I drove to Rollins College (an old, romantic campus near my office) and I sat by myself on a bench near a lake.

I’d been restless all day.

Recently, I’ve gotten into the funny habit of speaking peace over my own heart. There’s no shortage of things in this world (and within our own thoughts) eager to steal it so reminding myself of God’s truths and the true nature of things propelled into His care has been a good habit.

This particular day, my best efforts were futile. My mind had settled into a discomfort I couldn’t quite put into words.

I’m reading a book about trees these days and learning a lot about the nature of their growth. Pruning a young tree, or cutting the branches back, helps them grow in the right direction and removes diseased wounds. They are cut so they are healed. The process forces them to grow strong enough to weather storms. I get why Jesus drew a parallel between this process and certain seasons He fosters into our lives.

I’ve also been reading the Bible again after a long time outside the church. Outside the church is a light way to put it. I spent almost two years sneering at the Evangelical Christian culture I identified with as a teenager, resenting the simplicity and struggle of it all. I didn’t want to struggle. I didn’t want to be “authentic” or trust in a faith I felt I’d grown out of. I just wanted to live.

My definition of “living” was defined by putting more value on, well, everything, above the Christ I once knew. And there’s always collateral damage to that. It’s a sad story but it’s not a new one.

Trees are cut so they are healed. And so are we.

I used to think when Scripture referenced the nature of creation as one of conflict, it only meant the world outside of our bodies. It made sense to me that wrestling tectonic plates and rising seas were crying to be freed from decay and unrest, ushered into the restoring presence of God once and for all. I now realize that, much like his thoughts on the vine and the branches, this truth speaks not only to creation beyond us but also creation within us.

I was frustrated that day on the lake. I was frustrated and wearied under the eager expectation for the restoration of all my wandering had wrought.

I prayed for faces I loved and sat there, silently waiting for the soil within me to quit moving when I noticed a girl swimming in the water I sat across.

She had walked to the end of the pier and jumped in while I had been in my own thoughts. A longing to return to dirt and earth and belong to something simpler woke up in me. I walked to the end of the pier and jumped in wearing my gym clothes.

Suddenly, it was just me and the lake and the smiling stranger in the lake who cheered me on with a ‘hang loose’ shake of her hand. I smiled back in a way that said, “I’m trying” and floated back. We each had a sense of our own rebellion in that moment—leaving the pressures of schedules and traffic and iPhone notifications to return to life itself. And on a Thursday afternoon no less, while the rest of the world pressed on without us.

I sank into the scandal and disappeared, tangling my feet through moss as I looked up at the sky and prayed to be untangled from my fears. The restlessness never disappeared and I admit I thought a jump in a lake would do it. Instead, it floated along with me. As I swam further out, the Winter Park estates felt smaller under the expanse I looked out onto. And so did I and all the concerns I carry within me in this life.

In that moment, my own being in this world made sense.

In the darkness of the lake, in the parallels of my fear for the future and what was swimming along below me, in the face of a God I realized I can’t control or distance or surprise, I grasped that I’ve always made sense. He made both light and darkness out of nothing and said, “good.”

He’s not scared of the wilderness within me or anyone else.

At least that’s what He spoke over me as He continued painting the skies while I watched, changing colors every few minutes, reminding me that each time I think He’s completed, He longs to show me glories I don’t have names for yet.

I disappeared under the water and thought of the people I missed, praying they knew God was with them in the wilderness too.

A City Cat Moves South

When I first moved to New York City, I wish I had done a few things. The first is I wish I had kept a journal of all the details that felt new upon moving to the city for the first time. I remember thinking I had grown up in multi-cultural areas like Miami and Orlando but nothing compared to the exposure I had to other languages and cultures simply through riding the subway to and from work. I also wish I had kept an obsessive log of all the restaurants I dined in throughout my 5 years in the city. If anyone asks, I have all of 5 fail-safe restaurants off the top of my mind to recommend.

I’ve been back in Orlando 17 days.

I moved down here on somewhat of a sabbatical under the assumption that I’d just stay with a friend, with no real plans other than to hit the springs, rejuvenate and give myself a month to apply to jobs. Since then, it looks like I’m starting a job opportunity I could not pass up on the 26th, making my time in Florida much longer than originally planned. I suppose I knew there was a chance of that when I bought a one-way ticket for $78 bucks.

Moving back to Florida has not been without it’s own series of culture shock. Here’s a look at a few of the #justsouthernthings (or #justsuburbanthings?) I’m still grappling to get used to again.

1. The sheer size of everything.
New York City is super compact. Like, I once had a friend whose kitchen you had to shuffle into sideways. Needless to say, the kitchen occupied one person at a time. Can you just imagine? That’s like building a kitchenette in one of those closets that hold ironing boards. Well, it happened. On the Upper West Side.

Meanwhile in Florida, I saw an outdoor shopping mall with a sign for Planet Smoothie so I pulled in, parked, got out of the car and just stared at the sheer size of the shopping mall. Where was this place? I saw a sign for it. Now, getting to it was it’s own challenge. It turned out to be behind the strip of businesses I had parked in front of, some 200 yards away. The open sky bearing down over the asphalt where Planet Smoothie remained in the distance made me feel so insignificantly small. Maybe that’s why New Yorkers feel so important, because everything is at hand and we feel like giants in the intimate corners of our restaurants and bars. Or the dorm-room size apartments we pay $1600/month for.

2. If you don’t have a car, you’re out of luck.
I have not owned a car in 7 years. Before moving to New York City, my life was compactly organized within a 5-mile radius of Winter Park. That’s when I paid $200/month in rent and had a front porch, a backyard full of rose bushes and a full-size garage. That we used for storage. I’m currently using my 17-year-old brother’s 2003 Honda Civic until I get my own but after doing some research on public transportation in Orlando, it would take you nearly 2 hours of transfers and waiting (in the Florida sun or rain, mind you) to get all of 5 miles North. The public transportation system here is atrocious. Even with a system as broken as the one in this city, 29 million passengers used public transportation services last year. The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, or LYNX as it’s more commonly known, has an operating budget of $127,045,444. Compare that to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority budget of 14.6 billion, servicing 1.7 billion New York commuters in 2015 alone.

3. Everything is so clean.
This point may only be magnified by the fact that New York City is famous for being so dirty. Between the subway stations that haven’t been power-washed since the 1940’s and the growing rat population, suffice it to say that you get used to living with a certain level of grime in New York City. It doesn’t matter how hot the water in your shower is, you’re just going to leave your apartment and get dirty again.

In Florida however, decency and order is rule. The stores are impeccably organized and the streets are pretty clean, too. Between going from the AC in the apartment to the AC in a newly washed car, I feel like I’m in a bubble of cleanliness and comfort. I have no criticism against this except that I feel like it heightens one’s disconnection from humanity at some level. What happens when we encounter circumstances, or even people, that threaten these comforts? There’s a disconnect between the have and have-nots in New York City, certainly, but in Florida, or in the suburbs let’s say, it feels like that disconnect is all the more grievous. You don’t have to think of kids that don’t have clean running water because you can just avoid that area of town. You don’t have to face things that make you uncomfortable because well, the windows in your car are tinted and you don’t have to make eye contact.

You don’t have that privilege in New York City.

4. Southern hospitality can be weird.
Shopping for groceries in Manhattan at rush hour resembles a dystopian Lord of the Flies experiment sponsored by Trader Joe’s. It’s every man for himself. Shopping carts are smaller for optimal aisle navigation, everyone has their headphones in and elbows out. I went to Publix the other day (if you don’t know what Publix is, imagine a grocery store experience in heaven) and I was in your average suburban-sized aisle (see point one) when two different men said “excuse me, ma’am” as they walked past me in the cereal aisle. I do not own the cereal aisle. Why do they need me to excuse them? They were at least two feet away from me when they passed by. How absurdly polite.

During this same Publix experience, two different produce attendants asked if I needed anything. Do you know how much eye contact these exchanges required? Do you realize how much eye contact they make in the South? What is everyone staring at all the time?

Which leads me to my next point…

5. It’s a village.
I feel observed all of the time in Florida. I’ve now begun to observe others, if only because I ran into two different people from high school in the Metro Orlando area of town. I went to high school 20 miles away from this region. The Cheesecake Factory is not safe, the gigantic Target in Millenia plaza is not safe. You will see people you know and will have to account to why you are in town and have not called them.

I went to Epcot earlier this week, you know, the Disney theme park that averages 31,000 visitors a day, and saw an old teacher and another couple I knew from the church I used to belong to. Greater Orlando may have a population of 2 million people but it’s actually a provincial town at heart.

The townspeople do not use turn signals.

From Unhappy to Hired

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On Monday, I was offered the position of Assistant Managing Editor at one of the quickest growing social content platforms available.

I’m excited to share that I accepted this new role supporting the development and promotion of diverse, compelling content from writers and thought-leaders across the country!

Searching for a job is such an ambiguous, often tedious, endeavor and I like the idea of building transparency and knowledge in order to demystify the process. I’ll share what I learned in upcoming posts but for now, I have to get to work.

About Those Leftovers

Ahhh, Thanksgiving.

A time when I am reminded how proficient other people are at cooking and muse once again about a domestic future for myself far in the distance.

At the moment, the reality of that future goes about as far as my reading this roasted cauliflower recipe.

Luckily, I will be going home for Thanksgiving this year where my parents will have selflessly cooked everything in exchange for the brief return of their only daughter and the entertainment my brothers and I provide whenever we are reunited. And our love, probably. I have a flight headed home to Florida this afternoon and my to-do list for the long weekend includes “eat chick-fil-a, visit the beach, text Gerty a photo of an alligator” but not much else.

Last year, my youngest brother visited me in New York City and we enjoyed a very hectic morning preparing to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person. I totally recommend doing this if you ever get the chance to but make sure you line up to wait in a spot with maximum balloon visibility. See, we did not do this because my research towards these sorts of things is forgotten when I have to wake up at 5am in the morning and I only realized my mistake after the parade began. This prompted my brother and I to run along multiple avenues in search of a better spot along with all the other suckers that did the same thing.

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We looked like the pack of wildebeests in The Lion King, you know, in that scene where the plot takes a turn for the worst (NO SPOILERS) but alas, we were determined to watch a televised parade of large balloons pass us by in celebration of a holiday that preserves a fictitious historical narrative surrounding our country’s history. New Yorkers enjoying Thanksgiving from the comfort of their expensive mid-town apartments probably watched and laughed from the comfort of their heated homes.

And then I wondered… Are we their parade?

(I didn’t really, I just saw an opportunity for a Carrie Bradshaw impression and I took it.)

I also took this photo.

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Our hands and noses froze in the 30 degree weather.

The balloons look much smaller in person.

And we had the greatest time ever.

What are you and your family doing for Thanksgiving? Do you have any traditions? If you don’t, I have a suggestion for a new one where you save me a piece of pie.

What People Don’t Tell You About Following Your Dreams

This is part 2 of a series sharing my journey to land my dream job. I look forward to sharing this process with you as the days unfold it, thanks for reading!

anxietyImage Taken by Tess Mayer

Currently, I’m sitting at a Gregory’s Coffee in the Financial District awaiting my final series of interviews this afternoon. The cold brew is great, I was complimented by the ladies behind the counter on how polished I look (yaaasss), and I had a great chat with my mama this morning so I’m feelin’ 100.

That was NOT the case earlier this week.

Given that this interview was scheduled for later in the week, I had a wealth of time between Monday – Wednesday to think of reasons why this opportunity might not work out. I began asking myself, who am I to deserve it? Who am I to believe my talents should be recognized in this way? To be completely transparent, anxiety has kept me in ill company this week as my thoughts have run through a gamut of professional and personal insecurities. In light of this, I called my mom a lot. I put on my favorite songs and forced myself to dance (in my bedroom, by myself – it’s a thing) to get endorphins going. And I reflected on a few things I learned that people don’t tell you you’ll experience once you decide to go for your dreams –

1. How uncomfortable you’ll become in the process:
Earlier this week, I was struck by how publicly I’ve been showcasing this journey and efforts. Hello there. You’re reading about it. On a public blog. And that’s been the whole point, you know, to invite others on this journey and share what works while learning from what doesn’t. But it didn’t hit me until recently how painful it will be if these opportunities don’t work out.

Out of all the articles I’ve read about the merit of following your dreams, none have mentioned the point when your voice will falter as you tell others about what you’re doing. Or how you’ll have to remain your own biggest encourager because if you don’t believe you can do it, other people will be hard-pressed to convince. However uncomfortable you may get, return to the reasons you took the leap in the first place and look to your prior accomplishments to remind yourself of your abilities. Anyway, it’s only when you’re outside of your comfort zone that the stuff of life can present itself.

2. The support of others may surprise you:
Alternately, you may be surprised by who shows up to cheer you on. I’ve had several friends check in with me each day for updates. Their day by day encouragement and presence in my life has reminded me that others believe my success is possible and that’s a pretty great counter to insecurity.

Surround yourself with your biggest encouragers. When you need a pick-me-up, text your best friend and ask for their vote of confidence. There’s nothing wrong with needing others to remind you of your talents. They most likely see talents in you that you aren’t even aware of yet.

3. You’ll surprise yourself:
As you guys know, I applied for several jobs that I may have seemed under-qualified for at first glance. By writing a proficient cover letter and making connections between my prior work experience and future opportunities of interest, I made the narrative of my professional career one that hiring managers could understand. In doing so, I was called in for a management opportunity I’m superrrr excited about. One I am interviewing for this very afternoon!

Everyone has a starting point.

One of my personal heroes in the media industry, Nancy Gibbs, began at Time magazine as a part-time fact checker in 1985. She’s now the Managing Editor of Time which reaches 50 million readers worldwide. Imagine new milestones for yourself. Challenge your dreams to widen. And then, put in the work necessary to reach them.

4. How hard the work is:
And work it is.

Y’all, I’m gonna get real with you for 2 seconds and say this has been an exhausting week. Although my schedule is flexible and I’m not reporting to an office, being my OWN manager and industrious each day has been an investment of energy in and of itself. In addition to that, I’d be lying if I said there isn’t an emotional component impacted. It can be taxing to be “on” for interviews and put your best foot forward in a series of meetings with professionals you admire and respect.

If you’re considering taking on a new project or going for your dream job opportunity, make sure your schedule is set up for it. Life will never be put on hold for the sake of your timeline but if you’re volunteering, going through personal challenges, and working 70 hours a week, you may be setting yourself up for failure by taking on a new venture. Think critically about what is demanding your attention and eliminate the items that aren’t wise investments. Be resourceful, be ruthless with protecting your resource of time and energy, and beyond that, be ready pick yourself up in the face of rejection.

Resilience is work.

5. Your access to opportunity is largely based on the generosity of others:
Make yourself available to opportunity long enough and some incredible things are bound to happen. I love this article by Bruce Kasanoff which impresses the value of telling people what you WANT to do rather than what you’re currently doing. I love this because he has a point; telling people what you want to do gives them the opportunity to contribute to your story. I’ve learned that nobody reaches their dreams by operating as an independent unit. In contrast, the value of your professional network is incomparable. In her book The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay stresses the importance of “weak-tie” connections.

“Weak-ties are the people we have met, or are connected to somehow, but do not currently know well. Weak ties are also our former employers or professors and other associations not promoted to close friends … Weak ties give us access to something fresh … like bridges you cannot see all the way across, so there is no telling where they might lead.”

Who’s in your network? Think through it. Ask friends, co-workers, family who they know that might help you get where you’re going. And most importantly, respect any access you gain to these connections by communicating effectively, being punctual, and takin’ all the notes. Read The Defining Decade if you haven’t yet.

6. How stubbornly you’ll have to stand beside your work:
JK Rowling was rejected 12 times and told not to quit her day job before the Harry Potter series was picked up by a publisher. I ha-ha-hardly think my musings on this blog or any article I may pitch is in comparison to Harry Potter BUT Rowling’s journey was a comfort to reflect on when I received “no’s” or silence from editors.

Honestly, I don’t think my writing is particularly exceptional. It’s okay. I enjoy the process of it. I do my research. And quite frankly, it’s an area in my life I am willing to be a student to for the rest of my life. My commitment to learning and improving is what distinguishes what I have to offer. A large part of being excellent is showing up consistently and putting in the work. So, work, improve, and stand by your work when others don’t see the value in it (yet).

7. You’ll survive if it doesn’t work out:
Whatever the outcome of this next interview or the ones from earlier this week, the truth is I’ll survive if they move forward with someone else. My ego might bruise but luckily, my ego isn’t what’s carrying me forward. This won’t be the last professional opportunity I have and the fact that I’ve made it this far is an extremely positive reflection of my talents and candidacy.

Similarly, whatever project you’re working on, whatever place on the team you’re hoping for, know that it won’t be the last opportunity or shot at success. Opportunities are boundless if you’re committed to crafting them.

Now, go on and create your own.

Life Lately: Being Carrie Bradshaw or Something Like It

November has treated me well.

To begin with, it’s currently 68 degrees in New York City. Given that I lived 20 years of my life in Florida (don’t hold this against me now), weather between 65 and 90 degrees feels optimal. I’ve totally evolved to adapt to humidity and sweltering temperatures; bring on heat waves and I’ll pass on the snowstorms. But currently, it feels like Spring which I’m 100% kosher with, too.

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I’m not a fan of small talk but if you know me already, this doesn’t count as small talk, right? SO can you believe November is almost over?

(This is where you emphatically say, “I know, right!?” and contribute an anecdotal story about how quickly time is passing.)

On the subject of small talk, have you watched Chelsea Peretti’s stand-up comedy special on Netflix, One of the Greats? She has a bit where she talks about how exhausting it is to maintain interest in a dinner party conversation or small talk when you’re among a group of people you don’t know very well. She makes the excellent point that small talk would be a much more tolerable experience if you could just make a pterodactyl screech in between the bits of exchange, you know, to openly acknowledge how awful it is for all parties involved.

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I’m with this idea so if you hear me make a pterodactyl screech the next time we’re chatting, I’m just trying to spice up our convo. If you’re unsure what a pterodactyl screech sounds like, you should Youtube that immediately. Or screen the Jurassic Park trilogy, you know, whatever. I’m full of great suggestions so let me know if you need more.

As far as what I’ve been up to lately, life feels like Bradshaw levels of luxury lately (um, minus the Manolo Blahniks) in that I don’t have any responsibilities between Monday – Friday, at least none that require me to commute or report to an office. I’ve been filling my days with networking meetings and personal errands, including a couple of coffee dates with folks at Time Inc. tomorrow. It’s not cosmos with Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha but good enough.

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Beyond that, I’ve been interviewing and enjoying how quiet New York City is during the day when the masses are at work. I walked around Lower Manhattan earlier and got to see a few monuments I’d never visited before like the African Burial Ground Monument or the NYC Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza. I’ve also had a lot of brunch but that’s due in part to the fact that on weekends, I work doubles at a restaurant that feeds me a meal during each shift I work and provides a generous menu discount at other times. This used to be my favorite restaurant in the neighborhood to dine at before I began working there so it all worked out prettyyyyyy favorably.

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I know it can’t last.

I mean, I’ll keep the restaurant gig even after I get hired because I work with a really interesting and kind group of creatives who are working on writing their own scripts, novels, or comedy routines while they moonlight. And you know, the aforementioned food. But I know the luxury of these days where my time is not fixed to a schedule can’t last. I don’t want it to, though.

I just want to do good work, that I believe in, amongst good people. I’m idealistic enough to believe that’s possible, as I’ve already written about at length.

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From Selfie to Imposter Syndrome and Pursuing Your Dreams In Between

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Source of Image Unknown

This is part 1 of a series sharing my journey to land my dream job. I look forward to sharing this process with you as the days unfold it and thank you for reading.

Earlier this month, I posted this selfie (heh) to Instagram.

A few of my friends commented that I looked sad in it. I deleted the first comment because I was embarrassed by it but I decided to leave the second one up, along with the photo, because doing so felt honest. As a result of this particularly unusual meta Instagram experience, I realized my friends were right. 

I was sad.

I hated my job and the lack of agency I felt in not being able to do work I was passionate about was making my day-to-day disposition pretty bleak.

The day after I posted that selfie, I quit.

I requested a meeting with the Managing Director of the office I’d been employed at for five months and I told him, after weeks of being asked to reflect on the possibilities of my future at the company, that recruiting just wasn’t for me. I had taken the job because I valued the company’s vision and leadership, and it provided me with an exit from the non-profit space I was burned out by. I also knew it would be an excellent way to build my professional network in the digital media industry given the company’s specialty. My functional role in recruiting, however, left little opportunity for strategy-building, driving change, or program development – areas I had loved and thrived in prior to this role. I thanked my boss for the opportunity, applauded his talent for building a hard-working, friendly team of colleagues I didn’t want to leave behind, and packed my desk in order to be on my way by lunchtime.

The next day, I laid in bed absorbing the shock of what I had just done.

I reflected on times in the past where I’d taken similar leaps of boldness and landed on my feet. I encouraged my instincts on as I cycled through waves of anxiety that I had made a huge mistake. That day, I became my own cheerleader and coach, developing a strategic game plan while also delivering the most inspiring locker room speech of my life… to myself.

Between watching episodes of Being Mary Jane and picking at containers of take-out, I reflected on the job titles and responsibilities I wanted, regardless of whether I believed I was qualified for them or not. Managing Editor. Senior Writer. Associate Editor. Editor in Chief. I allowed myself to dream a little and all of my dreams lead me to a place where I would employ my leadership abilities, my research savvy, and my love for discourse within the internet community into an Editorial position at a digital media company or news organization.

The following Monday, I reached out to several friends who are especially talented at writing cover letters and resumes, and asked for their best tips and examples. I took several ideas I had set aside for this site and began creating an aggressive editorial calendar to cement this place as one I could freely write in as I learn, develop my voice, and make (many) mistakes. Finally, I took a long look at my resume and capitalized on the communications experience I’ve had thus far, pivoting the breakdown of my skills in a way that would allow hiring managers to connect the dots between my previous roles and the direction I was newly determined to head.

I applied to over 25 jobs that day and immediately received three emails requesting follow-up interviews in return. Allow me to digress and point out that this kind of turnaround is HIGHLY unusual. I’ve been in the job market on and off for six years and have never experienced anything like it. In speaking to people much wiser than I am and reflecting on this experience, I’ve realized that a huge factor that determines success – one that we have very little control over – is timing. The paradox is that you won’t know when the time is right but if you keep waiting to act until you do, that moment will never come.

Friends who have witnessed my career trajectory unfold throughout the years have asked for insight on my ability to shape the experiences and opportunities available to me. It’s been absurdly encouraging to receive texts from friends this morning, sharing that my example has lit a fire under their own feet in the direction of their dreams. I realize the problem with “follow your dreams” philosophy as it’s repackaged to us in our modern world is it doesn’t account for how much work it takes. Not the cliches, or well-meaning “Top Ten Entrepreneurs Who Followed Their Dreams And Hit It Big” lists on Forbes. And by sharing this process with you, that’s exactly what I hope to communicate – that there’s no such thing as an overnight success or flash in the pan.

The reality of my experience is I make my mind up about what I want (admittedly, this one took a while), seek the advice of people who are smarter than me, and I start knocking on doors hard and long enough for people to hear me and open them. I figure if the timing is right and I’ve done my research, it’ll work.

This is the philosophy I used in securing a lunch date with the Vice President of Innovation and Engagement at a company I admire after I emailed him in interest towards a project they’re launching exploring opportunities for youth empowerment within journalism.

This is the philosophy I used when I reached out to a coach at my gym who also owns a restaurant and got the hostessing gig that’s keeping me afloat until I return to a traditional office space.

And this is the philosophy I used when I reconnected with the local alumni chapter at a national organization I’m a part of and enlisted to support in their rebranding efforts to gain more exposure to their network.

I have an interview in a couple of hours and an interview on Monday, in addition to a follow-up meeting with the CEO of another company I am interviewing with scheduled next Thursday. It would be easiest to keep this process to myself and let y’all know when I finally snag a job I’m excited about. Yes – it’s easiest to share the milestones in our life online when we can sum up the process without mentioning all of the tedious effort, moonlighting gigs, research, and strategic networking it took. But I wouldn’t be okay with perpetuating the lie of the #Luckygirl. It would be dishonest to say “got the gig! #blessed” and put a big bow around the delivery of the news as if it didn’t take a daily dose of humility, a stubborn sense of self, an eagerness to learn, and grace.

All of the grace.

To face rejection with dignity, ask for help, and have the courage to say (when necessary), “I don’t know but I’m going to learn at any cost.”

I’ve always held positions that specialized in a communications capacity but editorial is the untapped frontier for me. And over the course of five years, imposter syndrome has kept me from entertaining my desire to break into it or invest in my professional development within this area. After I posted that selfie, I decided – if imposter syndrome was going to continue terrorizing my energy and confidence in myself, then I would just embrace it’s presence in my life and become the best “imposter” I could possibly be.

Anyway, I couldn’t give any more attention to all of the reasons my dreams couldn’t possibly be realized.

I had work to do.

In Defense of Dreaming

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Platitudes about following your dreams are in no lack of supply.

With their moniker of positivity and nearly dogmatic insistence to consider a life more favorable, perhaps even more magical, than one’s present reality, the passive ease with which we share these messages is pretty common.

Far less available are quotes about the work it takes to achieve the reality we speculate on between our coffee cups at the job we hate, meal prep, or the bills we can’t seem to catch up with. Life, unless you hail from a home of significant financial privilege, doesn’t really make accommodations for our dreams. On the contrary, it provides an ample supply of dead ends, distractions, and reasons why our hopes should wait on the back-burner.

I believe there should be an anti-thesis to life’s ever-bearing prescription of discouragement, but hearing or saying (or sharing) “follow your dreams” doesn’t lead us anywhere at all. What I propose we begin sharing instead are small imperatives of action towards our dreams. Investments made on a daily basis. Active dreaming – “Begin dealing with your resentment so you can be the woman you want to be.” “Don’t make this frivolous purchase so you can be debt-free and own the home you have in mind.” “Remember that contact you made at last week’s conference? Email them. Now.”

I’m not sure about you.

But I don’t do well when I’m not actively dreaming.

When I stop imagining the possibilities I want to achieve for myself, my current and future family, or my career, I slip into a listless shell of myself.

Do you experience this, too?

I observe the lives of others and wonder why I feel like an outlier at times – Hungry to taste everything I’ve ever dreamed of and ridiculous enough to believe it’s possible if I put in the work.

Attending the Time 100 gala.
A consistent career as a writer.
Financial independence by 25.
A new country traveled each year.
A home to someday share with a husband and children.

Some of these dreams (many of which I won’t share, lest they turn into my responsibility) feel silly in their extravagance and others are simple rights I believe every person should be entitled to as a clause within the words “pursuit of happiness.”

I’m aware on the criticisms imposed on my generation – Criticisms that dismiss this ambition and energy by remarking that Millennials don’t have a grasp on the limitations imposed by the current market or corporate culture. However, I can’t entertain them because doing so would mean ceasing to grasp at opportunities for excellence or ingenuity the only way I know how; With unapologetic zeal. Instead, I hope to understand the current state of the industry (and broader context of the world) I belong to in order to most effectively expand or break it’s bounds.

We’re in an interesting space in time where our generation is criticized by fore-comers while we simultaneously transition into positions of leadership at established companies, create new ones, build movements, and inform campaigns.

I look forward to seeing what we build together.

I Stand with Planned Parenthood

I began having sex at 15 years old.

The memory of my first time is as awkward and short-lived as you might imagine between two kids that didn’t know who they were doing.

My mom had given me “the talk” in 5th grade, once the differences between my male peers and I began growing. We sat on our living room floor looking at age-appropriate books she had checked out from the library that illustrated men and women’s anatomy and explained the context of sex between two consenting adults. But we didn’t discuss it again in my adolescence. Instead, my confidantes about this new, weird experience shared between two humans were found in my best girlfriends, who were coming of age in their own series of hook-ups and experimentation.

At 16, I began dating someone seriously (as seriously as one can in high school, which is to say not very) and sex became a regular part of our relationship. My thoughts looking back on this as a 24 year old are that I was too young to experience this level of intimacy. I didn’t know it at the time but I wasn’t mature enough yet to make decisions that were in the best interest of my health or my future.

Luckily, the compassionate individuals at Planned Parenthood were there to help educate and empower me without judgement.

I knew I wanted to go on birth control but my relationship with my parents wasn’t as open then as it is now. I couldn’t talk to them about my reproductive health without the fear of feeling embarrassed or patronized, so like a true digital native, I began researching a solution by Googling “birth control methods”. In doing so, I learned that Planned Parenthood would be my best resource and within the hour, I had an appointment confirmed. A few weeks later, one of my best friends at the time drove me to a clinic 45 minutes away in the outskirts of Orlando, the only metropolitan area near my hometown. The facility I went to was similar to any other doctor’s office I had ever visited – clean, welcoming, and serious about their patient’s right to privacy.

I was seen within 30 minutes and discussed my options at length with the practitioner available. I settled on the Pill and walked out with a prescription that would cost me no more than $30/month – a cost I could easily pay with funds from my after-school job serving smoothies.

Because of my access to Planned Parenthood’s services, I’m sitting here years later in a city 1,000 miles away from home, pursuing a career and life without the pressure of caring for a family I’m in no way ready for yet.

The “baby-parts-for-sale” video that has incensed so many Conservatives against Planned Parenthood has been debunked in a series of outlets, including here, here, and here. At the same time, it would be disingenuous to evade discussing that Planned Parenthood provides women with access to safe abortion procedures – a total of 327,653 in 2014 alone. Whether or not I agree with a women’s choice to have an abortion is not up for discussion here.

Whether or not you agree to a women’s choice to have an abortion is not up for discussion here.

What is up for discussion is that defunding Planned Parenthood leaves 5 million women, men, and adolescents without affordable healthcare services like breast exams, pap smears, and family planning. It leaves people in need of testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases without an accessible and supportive place to do so. And it leaves women who have decided they are going to get an abortion without an option to do so safely and affordably. Do we really have to invoke the symbolism of hangers to remember that women are going to take control of their reproductive liberties, whether Congress allows it or not?

In considering my religious beliefs and the sensitive nature of this subject, George Takei comes to mind. Following the Kim Davis debacle surrounding gay rights, Takei posted a Facebook status calling out the media for turning the debate into a circus and pointing out that American citizens are bound to following civil laws, not religious ones – Therefore, Kim Davis was breaking the law by refusing to provide marriage licenses to gay couples. Someone commented and in a poor effort to shut down his argument, urged Takai to learn the first amendment. Takei responded, outlining the first amendment at length and calling attention to the fact that it gives one the right to worship freely while also restricting Congress from imposing religious doctrine on American citizens. You know, a nod to that whole clause called “separation of church and state”.

George Takei’s point applies in the debate surrounding Planned Parenthood, too.

The topic of Planned Parenthood’s role in providing women with safe abortions has become such a mast-head for bipartisan debate and is used by presidential candidates as a thinly veiled attempt to gain political footing with Conservatives so often that it’s also been reduced to a circus, while ignoring all that’s at stake. The value in providing subsidized health services for women and families, and how these services impact our population’s quality of life has been regrettably overlooked by Conservatives and the general public alike. If #Alllivesmatter, aren’t the lives of the people served by Planned Parenthood, many of which are people of color and immigrants, worth discussing?

I’m thankful my mother didn’t choose to abort me when she found herself pregnant at 17 years old and was encouraged by extended family to do so. I’d like to believe I would be as courageous as her and keep a pregnancy I wasn’t ready for but I’ve never been faced with this decision myself, thanks in part to my access to reproductive health services like birth control.

I’ll fight for my teenage self’s opportunity to make choices about her own body, whether or not those choices would be different today. I’ll fight for an organization that provides 10,590,433 healthcare services to communities of people each year. Beyond (and maybe even despite) my religious beliefs, I’ll fight for a woman’s ability to terminate a pregnancy she has decided she is not ready for. As I write this, I can picture the disappointed, most likely horrified, faces of the Christian peers that will read this.

Even with these images in mind, I would never allow an outside party to legislate a women’s right to her own body and choices – The complexities of which they’re not equipped to take authority over.

And neither should you.

lessons in absence

There’s something about losing intangible items that makes the loss all the more difficult. You can’t look for old relationships where you last put them down, you can’t tear the cabinets and closets apart searching for people you weren’t willing to part with. In a city as transient and uncertain as NYC, I cling to my friendships like they’re my tribe; A well of resource, collective survival, and in many cases – a semblance of home and safety. When these kinships end and the absences endure, collateral damage is not uncommon.

I’ve been out of this blogging space since February and although I’ve told both you and myself that it’s because I was focused on other things, my patterns confess that I only stop writing when I’m experiencing something too ugly to shape shift into words or sit still with for very long. There’s nothing poetic about strife or navigating through it as an adult when you feel like you slept through the class on the subject.

Fall is beginning to tease New York City with it’s return and the drop in temperature has reminded me that change is the only thing we can bet on. In that truth, I’ve regained a sense of direction and voice, as well as a new responsibility to wield both carefully.

I find myself thankful for the people that are constants, the same ones that have encouraged me to write and remain vulnerable. These individuals have intimately shared the narrative of my life’s story through years past and trusted in it’s success – most insistingly, when I couldn’t.

gerty bird

What are we without the people that will return to the trenches for you?

jenna dooze

The ones who will cheer us on when we feel like we’ve been disqualified and love us when we’re at our most unlovable?

lyn new year

I haven’t been that person to others when they’ve needed me to be but I’m learning.

Lindsey

Turns out it’s an exercise, not an equation, and it requires putting down my pride.

elly among leaves