Communicating Happiness: It’s Just Beginning.

I am so beyond ready for my next chapter to begin. It isn’t necessarily that I didn’t like college. After all, I made some amazing memories and learned from wonderful educators at two institutions. Most importantly, I met friends who turned into family and who will be in my life for a long time to come. However, I am one of the recent grads who is extremely happy that college has finished. I understand that many people say that life becomes so difficult from here on out now that we must enter the dreaded “real world.” I understand that what comes next will be plenty of tedious work, financial hardship (paying off those loans), and life struggles that naturally occur when growing older. I firmly believe, though, that what comes next is going to be wonderful.

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I’ve mentioned this to a few, but I unfortunately associate the last four years with more personal hardship than I hope to experience in the next few years. This makes it somewhat difficult to ever say college was the “best years of my life,” even if I did experience so many blessings along the way. Please see a few of those blessings below.

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I realize I’m going to be in the workforce and dealing with new “adult” things, but I just think I am going to find a way through all that mess to keep my passions alive–to find new passions, and to excel while maneuvering my way through adulthood.

I’ve heard time and time again that life does not get any better from here, but I just don’t believe that has to be true. It is in no way going to be easy, but that does not mean it is going to be a bad experience.

You can call me naive, but as someone who learned before she even entered college that life is far too short, I know that I’m not going to let money or jobs ruin who I want to become as a person. I only have so much control over what happens in the days to come, and the part that I can control? Well I’m going to design my life exactly the way I want it to be. Let’s not forget, designing is in my degree.

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My next chapter is going to be full of living. I have so many things I’m passionate about, but haven’t had the resources or time to pursue them. I know that with a demanding career I’m not going to be gaining any more time or free hours in the day; however, I’m going to find the time. I just read a quote shared on LinkedIn that stated how life became much better after this LinkedIn user eliminated the word “busy” from his vocabulary.

That stuck with me.

I don’t want to be too busy for life.

I’m so excited to start my career. But I’m also excited to continue my hobbies and to pick up new ones like photography. I’m excited to travel, which of course is where that career paycheck will come in handy.

I’m going to take so many pieces of the past four years as I move forward. The lessons. The memories. The people. The friends. The family.

Just as I said at the start of this, I couldn’t “hate” the last few years. I just know that what is next is going to be my time.

It’s going to be my time to do even more. To fail even more. To meet even more people. To fall in love with people and places. And to continuously learn–about myself, the world, and this life.

This is my life. I’m only twenty-two years old. The past few years have given me so much perspective into what I want out of my days.

It’s just beginning.

-Rachel

Communicating Happiness: You Can’t Be Sad While Holding An Ice Cream Cone

Three weeks without Instagram has NOT been an easy feat–which left me to get a little creative and loophole my way through sharing a few of my favorite Week Three moments with you. This past week was again super busy, and slightly tiring (not sleeping through the night is very unfortunate with just a couple weeks left of college). However, my weekend was full of happy friends, happy moments, and happy hours.

The weekend began by finishing my senior capstone project followed by a much-needed trip to Purity Ice Cream, so I pretty much set my Friday up for success. After our nutritious ice cream lunch, my friend Deanna and I decided to check off one of our Ithaca bucket list items: the lighthouse. After an interesting adventure through Stewart Park, we have to admit that the lighthouse still remains on our bucket list. Our Fitbits were pretty happy with our adventure though!

Check back to next week’s post, and maybe we’ll have found our way by then.

The day continued with spending lots of time with my friends in one of our final weekends in college. Graduation is crazy close! After spending some time with classmates to “cheers” to the end of our busy semester (and few years), I continued the night by grabbing a drink with my close friends. With the Happiness Challenge in full effect, I know I made Dad proud by ordering a bourbon cocktail (a little fruitier than he’d ever order!).

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Although I was hit with a lot of exhaustion this week, I didn’t let that get me down. Saturday was another full day–savoring every bite of my Farmers Market cider donut, embracing a rather chilly afternoon outdoors, and finishing the night dancing around with my best friends. My favorite part of the weekend was hearing one friend tell me, “you were so happy last night!” That’s something I haven’t heard in a while, and to know I genuinely felt happy without putting on a front–that’s a pretty cool feeling 20 days into my 100 day challenge.

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As you can see, the semester–and my college career–are really winding down. I’m finishing up my final papers and that’s about all I have left for school work. The rest of my time is spent unwinding and enjoying my friends. So far so good with the start of May. Now if only the weather could get the happy memo!

-Rachel

Communicating Happiness: The Moments I Won’t Get Back

It’s week two and my hope to post a blog each week on the same day has already failed. Not without some effort though! Last night, I opened up my laptop to write, and couldn’t find any words. Apparently after a packed day, I just wasn’t too inspired. Instead of throwing something together just to keep to my “schedule,” I decided I might have better luck waking up and writing alongside a nice cup of (iced) coffee.

Which is where I am at right now. Two weeks into my Happiness Challenge, two weeks into my social media cleanse, and two weeks left of undergrad. It’s quite an eventful time! Over the past week, again no life-changing lessons or moments occurred. However, I had a pretty solid week. Mainly because I was back at home with my family–my entire family! For the first time in four months I saw my sister who was visiting for the weekend from Boston. It was a weekend filled with birthday celebrations, wedding planning, and of course good food and good wine.

With this in mind, I’d consider it a pretty happy week–give or take some super busy days at school. The next couple weeks though? These are going to be good. My school work looks to be pretty manageable, and I’m down to my final weeks in Ithaca. My goal is to hit every hiking trail I can while I still have the chance, and spend as much time as I can with my friends before we head off to our new cities.

It’s hard when everyone likes to ask what we are doing after graduation, when really all I want to do is savor the moments I have while still a student. I don’t want to focus on my internship (which is coming up super fast), but rather on the day-to-day moments that I won’t ever get back.

These are the moments I pass my friends on campus and it’s a nice surprise to my day. They are the moments I finish a stressful project and feel accomplished with the hours spent in front of my computer. The moments I’m laughing too hard around a kitchen table with my best friends. The 70 degree days where I can really appreciate how beautiful this campus is. The moments I remember that I’m graduating from a wonderful college and have earned an education that many people may not even have access to. These are the moments I remember I’m only a college senior, and I have every opportunity still in front of me.

I’m not worried quite yet about my summer internship because I know it’s going to be a huge learning experience, one where I’m going to have to work hard and learn as I go. For now, I’m going to try not to worry. I’m going to have fun. A lot of fun. Because I graduate in 24 days. And I’m not going to get these days back.

-Rachel

Communicating Happiness: A Week Without Social Media

As a college senior, I do go out on the weekends with my friends; however, there are plenty of weekends where I choose to stay in–often curled up under the covers with Netflix on my screen and a mug of tea in my hands. Although I choose to spend my night like this, happily, I can never seem to avoid opening up Snapchat or Instagram and seeing friends and acquaintances having a “college” night out. This is at least what I did until I started my social media cleanse.

This past weekend made me remember what it was like before Snapchat–when I chose to do something with my life and didn’t worry about coming across a post shared by friends who must be having a better time than I am. This never really was the case though–others were never really having a better time because remember, I chose to stay in, or I chose to go home and spend time with my family. However, checking Snapchat was such an instinct to see what everyone else was up to, that I would disregard how it was impacting what I was up to.

For instance, this weekend I was able to be home to celebrate a late birthday dinner with my family. It was a Friday night, one where my closest friends were enjoying a night out at school. Without Snapchat, I had absolutely no idea what they were doing. What bar were they at? Were they having a good time? Was it more fun than we had the previous weekend?

These are all questions I could’ve had answered, or at least made assumptions of, had I been able to open up my Snapchat. And you know what this would have done? It would have distracted me from my mom, my grandma, my aunt and my brother who were right in front of me.

This may sound so trivial to someone who has never experienced insecurity over “missing out” after seeing something posted on social media. As a girl who lived through college with full access to social media, I experienced this too often over the past couple years, and I don’t believe it’s the healthiest use of social media. As much as I have tried convincing myself that what other people are doing doesn’t affect me–even though this has improved with age and maturity–I still realize it is easier said than done.

This is exactly why my 100 Happy Days begins with a social media cleanse. In order to focus on my happiness, I want to give myself the opportunity to really live for the now–to live for what’s right in front of me, not what I think is happening 100 miles away.

Without social media, I even decided to completely turn my phone off a few times this weekend, something I probably would not have done had I not deleted my apps. I went out to lunch with my mom and left my phone in my car. There was zero chance that I would even check my phone and become distracted from our conversations and delicious meal. This is something I hope I continue long after my cleanse finishes.

Yesterday, the sunset was beautiful and I didn’t once think to pull out my phone and send the image to someone else. Rather, I just took it all in. No social media post necessary.

With just a few days into the cleanse, I’ve remembered how life does not stop when you don’t have access to the internet for a few hours. I may have lost all my Snap Streaks with my best friends, but you know what I haven’t lost? Connection to my best friends. If I want to know how their weekend was, I make plans to meet up and hear all about it. If I want to show them a picture of something, I send it old school via text message (which my friends were witness to this weekend when the Snap withdrawals were real).

My first week of Communicating Happiness did not have any major life-changing moments in it, but it was a great reminder that this project is going to be positive. I’ve been journaling in my Happiness Planner every night and have focused on becoming more aware of how I am reacting to life around me. One item it asks everyday is to write down what I am grateful for. Every single day I have written: my family and my support system. I’m pretty sure this is going to be repeated another 93 more times too. Just another reminder that no matter what circumstances occur next, I have a pretty cool group of people around me to keep me smiling when I need it.

-Rachel

When Beyond Stressed, I Write.

The past few weeks have definitely taken a toll on me. Surprisingly not about my personal life, but all with college. When you are deep in group projects, applying to jobs, preparing for internships and traveling to a conference out of state, it gets a little hard to breathe. Let alone enjoy the final semester of college. 

This week was one where I saw the downfalls of being a perfectionist with my work; however, as I have recently told many people, it is because I truly pride myself on the work I produce. This can be difficult when it comes to working on so many group projects in our communication major. Everyone has different perspectives, different motivation levels, and different styles for producing their own work. None of this is necessarily bad, but it definitely is important to understand that work and leadership styles vary from person to person. This is why the past few weeks, and few days in particular, were a great learning experience because I was able to take away personal notes for improvement. I understand what my strengths are, but I realize what my weaknesses in group dynamics are as well, and how I can better cope under stress.

I’ve mentioned this to a few people jokingly, but recently I took a personality test. Yes, it was online, but it was quite a substantial test for something I found shared online. Anyway, the test showed me that I have a pretty high level of anxiousness; however, that level also matched my high level of orderliness. I joked about this finding in that I may get a little anxious, well a lot anxious, during times of stress; however, the project is going to get done, and it is going to get done with 100% of my effort.

Hence, the blessing and the curse of being a perfectionist, and why I have learned over the past few years to not overcommit, to say no, and to remove myself from situations which are not positively contributing to my life.

Mental, emotional, and physical health should always come first. When I have high expectations for myself and others I am working with, it is sometimes hard to distinguish when these three forms of health may be taking a toll because I am so focused on the end product.

What’s cool about understanding all this at my age is that I’ve been able to really narrow down where my passions lie, and what pieces of my life I choose to commit 100% to. Although I’m a little sleep deprived right now, I chose to commit everything to this project because it’s a project that will honestly benefit my passion in the long run. It was a creative project, based on branding and design and I had a leadership role. Although I was not a perfect leader, as I mentioned earlier, I learned a lot about myself during this short project which I can take with me as I move forward in my career. I know you may be wondering why I put so much thought into a silly group assignment in college. Well, this project is just a small glimpse of the type of content, style of project, and leadership situation I hope to see myself in for many years to come, on a larger scale of course.

It’s just another reminder that I’m entering a career field I’m supposed to work in, one that I’ll enjoy working in. 

-Rachel

My Next Move

Today marked the first day of my final semester of my undergraduate career. After eighteen years of education, I am down to my last four months. It is a little surreal to think about how structured my life has been up until now, and that my world is unknown in four months. No more summer vacations, week-long breaks, or winter recesses. Currently I have jumped right into the job application process, applying to agencies left and right, hoping that I will have some idea of my short-term future by May.

As I began my day this morning, returning from a five-week long hiatus from Ithaca College, my focus was not exclusively on classes. Last night I returned to Ithaca with bittersweet feelings. This winter break was filled with a lot of heartache and emotions, but I was able to experience the heartache around my family—my rock. Now I must revert to my routine, group projects, work, applications, gym sessions, and time with my good friends who I will be parting from in a just a few months.

Not only has my personal life been filled with emotions, but I also cannot seem to go on social media without a sense of stress and sadness over the divisive rhetoric of my newsfeed, nationwide. Although it is hard to remove myself from social media, I seem to close out of these applications feeling more agitated than I ever have before.

With this being said, I have found myself thinking a lot about my next moves in life—mentally, emotionally and physically—over the course of my final semester and post graduation.

The past six or so years have not been easy. I know what some of you may be thinking, I am 21 years old, how hard could my life have been? To a certain extent, you are correct. I have been surrounded by people who I love and who love me. My college experience has been difficult, but I had the opportunity to attend two amazing institutions to learn about communications and have only benefitted from the networking, education, and of course the friends I have gained at both of these schools. Additionally, I am a healthy individual. My mental and emotional health may have taken some hits with the events that have occurred over the past few years; however, I have been able to continue working, going to school, sharing my voice with you all, exercising, laughing with friends, and loving my family.

It is easy to get sucked into the negativity surrounding our lives right now, but my next move is this: I choose my path, and I choose positivity. Those who know me have seen all my sides, but recently my closest network of loved ones may have seen a lot more pessimism than optimism in the past few years. That changes now.

Life is by no means going to get easier. Negativity will continue to surround me; however I want to do my best to be positive in the moments I have left in college, in my job search and the start of my career, with my friends, and with passing strangers or followers on social media. We are so blessed with the ability to share our voices. What power that holds.

The voice you share may hold a different opinion than the person beside you. I know mine has at times, but I try my best to remain positive even when sharing a different opinion. We should never hold back our opinions, while making sure we do so respectively. How else will we bring positive change to the world and society without sharing these voices respectively.

At this particular moment in life my positive contributions may be small ones, but they still matter, such as listening to friends in need, successfully completing my part of a school project, complimenting or acknowledging someone, calling family members, reaching out, and facilitating open conversations with those around me.

My next move for 2017 is to practice positivity, what is yours?

-Rachel

Right Where I’m Supposed to Be

When I imagined where my life would be when I was coming up on 21 years of age, I didn’t necessarily imagine where I’m at right now, but this is by no means a bad thing. I think when we are kids and teenagers we create certain expectations for ourselves. I assume this is something we never really let go of, though. I thought at this point in my life I’d be a little more sure of myself, have more professional experience under my belt, and have already traveled abroad. Maybe it’s due to social media and seeing others’ experiences, or maybe it’s my own experience at two pretty competitive schools, but I tend to feel as though I should be doing more–have a better internship, work more often, work out more often, look a certain way, feel a certain way.

I get caught up in planning out how I want my future to be. As much as it’s great to have goals, I don’t believe we should undermine our current successes just because we think we should be doing even more. I may not have landed the prestigious internship just quite yet, but I have collected experience that is driving me closer to that goal. I may not have studied abroad, but I’ve traveled to multiple cities and lived in two completely different college cultures. I may not have my life together quite yet, but it’s still just getting started.

This summer will be my last before my final year of undergrad. There is a ton of pressure placed on communication students because of the notion that we must have the best internship or else we cannot compete post-graduation. I am still in the middle of the application process and I’m already overthinking the next six months. This is because I have an expectation for this summer–get a “perfect” internship, head back to IC with confidence, leave IC next spring with a job.

The plan is actually a pretty good one if you eliminate the pressure. I shouldn’t be worried because I’m doing everything I should be. I am right where I’m supposed to be. It’s the final semester of my junior year and I’m taking the right steps to move forward in my professional development. I shouldn’t be stressed over what will happen three months from now, a year from now, and especially not five years from now.

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because this is where I currently am at. *parkie*

They say your awkward years are your early teens. Well I actually think 20 is another awkward stage. You’re no longer a child, but not quite yet an adult. You can’t even go buy a drink yet–oh the college struggle. Even though I tell myself not to plan my life out, I constantly have the urge of wanting to be in my mid-twenties. This might be because I’m always around people older than me, or it might just be because I watch a lot of movies and TV. I’m not sure why, but I want the job, the apartment, the travel, the life.

I can’t say I’m one of the students who are going to be stressing once college nears its end and I’m no longer in that second awkward stage. Will I be stressing to find a job? Of course. Stressing about entering the “adult world?” Not so much. I’m excited for the opportunity to live out a life that I’ve been working toward before my college career even began.

I think I’ve grown a lot over the past two and a half years and I do believe that any adversity I’ve faced is going to improve my chances of success out in that adult world. I’ve experienced moments that I wish I never had to, but I like to think I’m living a good life through any hard moments.

I go to school, I work hard and I learn. My current job is to be a student, a daughter, a sister, a friend. Who knows what my life will actually be like when I’m 25. Maybe I’ll have studied abroad, maybe I’ll be working for a great company, maybe I’ll already have switched careers (fingers crossed this is not the case because I adore PR).

I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be–at that awkward 20 years old. And I am going to take each day as I go. I still am going to plan and prepare. That’s something I can’t stop doing because I enjoy setting personal goals. I am, however, going to try and worry less about my life going according to the set plan and instead enjoy the ups and downs that life has in store for me.

-Rachel