The Skyline I Know

As my family was passing over the Whitestone Bridge last week, I noticed how beautiful the New York City skyline was. I have seen the skyline quite a bit in my lifetime, yet every time I see the city, I can’t help but be amazed by it.

Whenever New York City is depicted on TV or in a movie, my mom always refers to it as “her city.” After all, she spent her whole life there before getting married and moving Upstate with my dad. Anytime the skyline was featured on screen we’d hear “oh there’s my city!”

And this is the sentiment of every New Yorker. After spending a couple months there this summer, I get it. It’s the sentiment of anyone when they see an image of their home–whether a giant metropolis or small farm town.

It is pride. And New York pride is like no other.

The skyline of my “mom’s city” was a skyline defined by the Twin Towers.


As we were crossing over that Whitestone Bridge, I realized that the skyline I have come to know, however, is with One World Trade Center. The skyline that I may one day refer to as “my city” is not the same one that my mom thinks of when she closes her eyes to remember her home.


And this got me thinking, remembering, reflecting.

With this time passing forward, we cannot forget – and I say this as someone who was just a child in 2001.

With a world that has become the world it is today – one that has seen horrific terror attacks, mass shootings, natural disasters – it’s hard to remember a time when tragedy was not on loop in the 24/7 news cycle, when tragedy wasn’t the norm. As a child in the early 2000’s, this is the norm to us.

But we have to remember September 11, 2001 – really remember what it means.

Every time I look to see the skyline and see One World, I’m reminded that the city my mom called home was devastated sixteen years ago.

More importantly, I’m reminded of the city’s strength sixteen years ago when faced with this devastation. This entire country was defined by its strength sixteen years ago – by every hero whose life was put on the line that day, and on the days and years following.

And for that I am so proud and grateful to live here.

I love the 2017 skyline because that is the city I know, but the history of New York City is not lost on the beauty of how it stands today.

The skyline I know is one that was rebuilt without fear. It is one that I can look at and know just how resilient New York is.

Sixteen years ago, our country was attacked. And sixteen years ago our country proved how strong and beautiful it is – and still is today.

– Rachel

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One Month Anniversary: Funemployment

Today marks exactly one month since coming home from my summer internship in New York. This means it’s been one month of uncertainty. One month of waking up in my childhood bed. One month of seeing hometown friends. One month of spending everyday with my mom and siblings. And of course it’s been one month of sending in job applications–even though I told myself I was going to take a little break from that. As you can imagine, that break from the job search never did quite happen.

This was definitely a result of that feeling of uncertainty I mentioned. I am positive that I am not alone when I say how uncomfortable uncertainty makes me. Not just with careers, but with anything in life. All summer while I was earning a wonderful experience in public relations, I kept reminding myself that I would try and relax when I got home. I needed a break. I needed time to breathe after the past year–the past few years.

Yet when I arrived home, Monday morning rolled around and I couldn’t help but open up my LinkedIn profile and “just peek” at what opportunities are out there. By the end of that Monday, I had already sent in multiple job applications.

Everyday since being home I have found myself scrolling endlessly through job boards, LinkedIn and Indeed. I’ve had plenty of Netflix binges in between these applications; however, for some reason I couldn’t even take just two weeks off after ending my internship.

I constantly go back and forth on my anxieties about the future–one moment I’m anxious that I won’t find a job soon enough, and then on the other hand I’m anxious that I am not enjoying this time off as much as I had planned to.

And why?

Because I’m so uncertain about my future.

I’ve unfairly blamed this on the fact that everyone wants to ask me what my next steps are. Answering this question makes me so nervous. I don’t have any next steps. Sure I’m sending out applications and preparing for interviews, but this is the first time in years I don’t exactly know what I’ll be doing even a month from now. I don’t have a fall semester to begin or an internship lined up.

I’m so eager to enter my career, and because of this I’ve forgotten that there is nothing wrong with taking a month or two off. After all, this is it. My next role starts the “once you work you never stop” stage of my life.

I don’t know if I’ve appreciated this month as much as I should have because I didn’t feel comfortable with uncertainty–not when everyone around me seems to know what their next steps are.

I wish I could be more comfortable with living day to day, and not worrying about finding the perfect job. My life has been career-focused for so long, that I honestly couldn’t shut that part of my brain off, even for a couple weeks.

I think this is okay though. I have loved every second of being home with my mom back in my hometown. And I have relaxed as much as my busy brain has allowed me.

I’m not sure how much time I have left at home before I make the move to my next job, so I’m going to try to take advantage of that. Even if it’s just a couple weeks. It’s okay to breathe. It’s okay to be uncertain about what’s next because I don’t necessarily have to follow the same path as the person beside me.

I’m going to continue being proactive about my career because I want to be able to carve out a life that I am happy with; however, I’m also going to make sure I take time out of each day to focus on the present.

Specifically, these days of waking up on cool summer mornings and having coffee in my childhood home.

-Rachel

 

 

 

Communicating Happiness: Whoops, I Guess I Forgot Again

Remember that cute idea I had back in April where I wanted to document positive moments through a 100 Happy Days series? Shockingly, I was not as diligent about this as I hoped, but here we are at the conclusion of the series! I wouldn’t necessarily say that life got in the way or I became too busy; but rather, I just forgot to tell you the happy things that occurred.

I think I actually forgot to tell myself the happy things that occurred.

For the past seven weeks I have been living with my grandma on Long Island while commuting to my internship in Manhattan.

The internship has not been easy.

Living with my grandma, however, has been a gift.

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For anyone who has made the comment to themselves about how they need to go visit their grandparents, give them a call, or send them a letter–I highly suggest doing so. And doing so now.

I have always been close to my family, but this summer I am able to have daily conversations with my grandma–rather than seeing her just a couple times a year.

She’ll share stories or make comments about her life as a child, as a mother, and then there are my favorite stories: the one’s about her and my grandpa.

My grandpa passed away the same year I was born, so I never had the opportunity to know him beyond the stories.

This evening, my grandma brought up how today was a near-perfect day. And that it was nice to enjoy it with someone (hi, that someone was me).

She recalled how we leisurely woke up on the Saturday morning. We went to the beach on a beautiful day–my favorite beach day of the summer. We went out for a nice meal, a glass of wine and good conversation. And of course we ended our evening at Carvel because Grandma could never go to bed without ice cream. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from her, it is that you never, ever go to sleep without dessert.

On our way home, she told a story about a day she remembers with my grandpa. It was her idea of a perfect day.

She said they began the day playing a round of golf, and then went to their beach on the south shore of Long Island for a couple hours spent in the ocean. Finally, their day ended at a small restaurant on the water, nothing fancy at all.

This story reminded me of all the days I forget about. The ones that go so seemingly perfect, yet are not the ones I dwell on.

It’s the traumatic days that we can recall minute for minute, but we rarely recall the days we spent smiling.

Those are the ones I want held tight within my memory.

Not the days where I was on edge, upset, stressed, exhausted or sad.

The days full of bliss.

The days like today.

-Rachel

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: A Work in Progress

They can’t all be ideal weeks, but that’s not to say I can’t find the positives in Week Four of the Happiness Challenge. First and foremost, I was reminded of my support system. I strongly believe that for any chance of happiness, you need your support system close, and you need to be honest with those who are in that circle. This does not mean you have to share every detail of what’s going on in your head and in your life with every single one of your friends; however, I have found that when I share what I’m able to, the true friends show up and do not leave.

Those in my support system have reminded me that as I make my way through life, I am a work in progress. As someone who tends to be pretty critical of herself, it’s important to have people who bring me back to the reality of how mistakes are meant to learn from–not to dwell on.

This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of during the past week of my Happiness Challenge. It’s not always going to be easy. Just because I continue to try and focus on all the positive aspects of my life, it doesn’t mean there aren’t moments, days, even weeks that are too hard to handle alone. Hence, the support system–the people that keep me happy when I’m not too good at it by myself.

I’m lucky I found my people. I’m lucky I have the family that I do. I wish nothing more than for every person who needs happiness reminders to have the same support.

This week’s Happiness Challenge post is basically a big thank you. It’s a thank you to anyone who has witnessed my not-so-happy moments, but stick with me through them until the happy moments come back around.

Thanks Fam.

-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