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: We Were on a Social Media Break

To jumpstart 100 Happy Days and my #CommunicatingHappiness blog series, I decided I would participate in a “social media cleanse” beginning tomorrow, April 13th. This may seem strange that someone who is building a career centered on digital media wants to remove herself from social media. I am choosing to do this, something I have attempted in the past, because I believe part of my 100 Happy Days needs to focus on being in the present. Being in the present is something we hear so often, I know at least I do; however, I can never seem to fully grasp it.

I’m not saying social media is the root of all evil when it comes to happiness, but I am saying that I often find myself in an endless scroll on so many platforms–opening and re-opening apps–yet never really feeling any sense of joy after finally closing out of them.

I stand corrected on that comment actually, because my friends do know how to crack me up with a good, relatable meme.

The point though, is that as much as I love sharing images and life moments on platforms like Instagram, I still find myself feeling more negative than positive feelings as I lock my phone. And this is coming from someone who is an honest advocate in not sharing photos just “for likes,” but rather for the love of the photo or the moment. Even with this mentality on sharing posts on my own profile, it’s still as if this system with a sole purpose of “connecting,” disconnects me from my own life.

I’m attempting just 21 days (not 100) of closing my apps because let’s be real, social media is still a huge part of my life and the industry I am beginning a career in. I do hope that taking a break will allow me to refresh and connect more with myself and support system, rather than trying to connect with the lives of strangers on digital media.

I just want to reiterate that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with social media, although I do believe there are plenty of misuses and abuses to the digital world. I think this break will be a nice chance to focus on the backbone of communication. Communication is not only done through digital forms, even though this has become the new norm. The foundation of communication is the same as it’s always been, no matter what new tech apps launch next. It is sharing stories, speaking with people, listening and being fully engaged, writing, and emphasizing physical, authentic relationships.

I must place a disclaimer on this “cleanse” because I will continue using Facebook as the sharing platform for my blog and keeping up with events on my campus, and obviously I’ll be on LinkedIn as well for professional reasons. Additionally, I’m going to be taking the same pictures I always do over the course of the next month, so be prepared for plenty of #latergrams coming your way on May 13th.

And if you try to contact me via social in the next month please remember:

-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

Two Weeks Into Senior Year–Okay, What’s Next?

A little over two weeks into senior year and I’m already having the “what am I doing with my life next year” moment. It’s not as much from fear this time around, but rather I’m excited for the possibilities. For the first time in a while (well besides that whole transfer situation), I have absolutely no idea what I will be doing. Undergrad will be over. Eighteen years of structured education will be complete, which leads the next stage in my life wide open. What city will I be in? What state or country will I call home a year from now?

Yes, I said country. That’s because more than anything, I want to travel. I missed the opportunity to travel abroad in my college career, but that does not mean I missed my opportunity to travel. I have such a need to see the world. I am tired of reading about cultures–I want to experience them. There’s a strong part of me that wants to just get out of this state and go anywhere. Not that I don’t love New York. Of course I heart NY. But so many places around the world reside on my bucket list–both inside and outside of the United States–and it’s about time I start checking them off.

The wanderlust is real.

In addition to this travel fever, I also have the question of higher education. Do I get my Master’s degree? What do I get my Master’s in? Do I wait and apply to jobs first? Ahh the questions of an early senior.

Everyone says that I have to just enjoy the present, but as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I can never stop planning. It’s in my communications-major blood to always be a fan of the details, always be prepared for what comes next.

My options for post-graduation may not be considered endless, but there sure are plenty to choose from. And we know my track record with life decisions–that two-year limit before I like to shake things up again. The place I choose to call home next May might not be my home two years after that. The best part is that I can do that at my age. I’ll be in my early twenties and get to fill my life with memories, experiences, mistakes, laughs…you get the picture.

So as I sit here contemplating life decisions on a Saturday afternoon when I should be doing homework, I’m not in fear of the future. I’m in anticipation, but not fear.

Updates on my decisions will continue, and changes to those decisions will surely come shortly after. For now though, I just have to decide where to travel to this afternoon, and an Ithaca hiking trail is definitely calling my name.

-Rachel

Don’t Plan the Memories, Go Make Them

Two months later and I finally have time to write again. To say it’s been a busy semester would be an understatement. One of the reasons I haven’t blogged is because I just haven’t had the energy to put life into words right now. There hasn’t been anything exciting happening. Nothing new, fun or interesting. And definitely nothing worth mentioning to the world.

I haven’t written in a while because I haven’t wanted to. I haven’t wanted to even try to put any part of my life into words for the public to read.

And to be honest, I still don’t really want to. I do, however, feel like I always return to blogging because it’s what frees me from keeping everything inside, the way I would if I didn’t have the written word.

My close friends and family know that I’m really good at creating unnecessary stress for myself because I tend to put pressure on everything I do. I like to plan and prepare for my future, and I take steps in my personal and professional life in order to follow through on those plans. I study hard to keep up in college. I try to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle. I’m about to start working an internship to prepare for post-grad. And most importantly, I make plans to spend time with friends and family.

However, there are some things in life you just cannot plan for.

You cannot plan for the adversities life hits you with. And sometimes, life hits you hard.

I haven’t written in a while because I haven’t wanted to talk about everything that has occurred the last few months–the last few years if I’m really being honest.

This last month, I’ve dealt with the typical finals season that every college student goes through. These are the weeks that keep you up into the early hours of the morning. The weeks that make you feel like your future actually depends on getting an A.

Simultaneously, I’ve been witnessing the detrimental effects of an awful disease. I’ve been stressing far too much over getting good grades, yet at the same time learning just how precious life is. I’ve been learning how you don’t know what the future holds, so you shouldn’t worry about the things that don’t actually matter–like getting an A.

What should you worry about? Making the trip to see your relatives. Waking up a few hours earlier to make breakfast for your parents. Calling up your best friends, or the friends you might have lost touch with, just to say hello. You should worry about going on the vacation you’ve always wanted to. Work can wait, memories can’t. Life cannot wait. 

What new lesson has the past few months brought to me? Don’t plan the memories you want to make–instead, go out and actually make them.

-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