Communicating Happiness: So Sorry for the Delayed Response!

~sorry I’m late, but…~

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I write when I’m happy. I write when I’m sad, and also when I’m stressed. The point is that I write when I feel. This is why it is a little disheartening that it’s been almost a month since my last post–especially for someone who thrives on communicating. It’s not upsetting because I feel the need to document every part of my life via the internet–even though my social accounts may lead you to believe otherwise. However, it is disheartening because I think I may have forgotten how writing is a form of healing.

I feel better when I write.

For my loyal readers (hey mom), you know that I left off my posts with a happiness challenge–one that I had planned to document on a weekly basis. Well, those friends who know me, are well aware that the likelihood I’d actually follow a structured series calendar was slim.

Alas, I’m here to resume the challenge–on day 67 to be exact–because I’ve realized the challenge holds me accountable to look for the positives as I encounter the ups and downs of life.

The past few weeks have left little time to rest–hence the blogging delay.

With a college graduation behind me, I headed for a short vacation to Florida then flew back to New York with less than 24 hours to spare before beginning my first post-grad chapter–an internship in the city.

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As an elementary school student, I wanted to live in New York City. For some reason, I just couldn’t wait to experience life beyond the small town I grew up in. This is obviously what led to my first college decision of attending BU and gaining a bit of the city life in Boston. I fell in love with that city, and although I returned to a smaller school environment at Ithaca–I never lost that feeling of wanting to explore and give a new city a shot, even if I do love my small hometown.

So I thought to myself, hey let’s try for the big one–the big internship in the big company in the big apple (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

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Which is where I am now.

Part of me wanted to hate working in New York because well, you know my track record with making decisions. If I love multiple places, how am I going to ever figure out where I’m going to live?

As you can guess, I currently adore working in New York. Although I could handle an easier commute than my grandma’s home on Long Island–I love the summer I am living so far. I love the anonymity of walking down the streets. I love that I have to learn my way around and make plenty of wrong turns. I love that everyone is so different. I love the city culture–the one that brings together so many different cultures. And of course, I love the knowledge I am receiving at my internship. I’m learning the craft of PR from the best in the business and trying absorb as much as I can with the short six weeks I have remaining.

My first couple weeks in this new little chapter have been exciting, terrifying, humbling, and fun. I’m able to meet new people, see college friends, spend time with family, and of course enjoy dinner with my grandma every single weeknight. Even though it’s not ideal to spend time away from my immediate family, I know that I’m throwing myself into this summer, and trying not to hold back from opportunities because of any apprehension.

New York City may be my next home. Boston may be my next home. Rochester may continue to be my home. Who knows what the fall season will bring; however, for now I’m going to push myself to learn exactly where I will want to live next. I’m going to say yes to things I’m worried I may fail at, agree to go out on adventures with friends when I know the “safe” choice would be to stay home, and most importantly, I’m not going to let any mistakes or insecurities hinder the chance at fulfilling my dreams and goals–both professionally and personally.

That little girl had dreams to be working in New York City. And here I am today. My dreams are going to continue evolving, so all I have to do is follow them–whatever city they may take me to next.

-Rachel

P.S. shout out to Deanna for reminding me I couldn’t let today pass without getting back into blogging.

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

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

Communicating Happiness: 100 Happy Days

Tomorrow marks my 22nd birthday, a little horrifying to say this because 22 is that mark of reality–the year college ends and life as an “adult” begins. As much as I say I’m ready to start my post-grad life, this doesn’t mean I’m not a little weary of graduation, especially after this past year. It’s been hard to be happy and optimistic during my time in college just due to circumstances out of my control; however, I do want to be happy and optimistic. And I want to be happy and optimistic before the stresses of the “real world” begin to unfold. This is because I want to be prepared for whatever comes my way, strong enough to face whatever is next, and not obsess over how I have handled adversity in the past.

With this being said, tomorrow begins my “100 Happy Days.” You may have seen people do this on social media over the past couple years; however, my 100 Happy Days is a reaction to a birthday gift I received from one of my best friends. Called a “Happiness Planner,” this gift is a tool designed to help its owner (me) “reshape the way I think and to shift my focus to the positive.”

It’s funny how this idea of “happiness” has been popping up in so many facets of my life. In one of my communications courses, I contributed to a presentation on the book The Happiness Advantage, which shares principles that can guide a person to create happiness. The Happiness Planner that I was gifted just this week, is the perfect complementary tool for practicing the principles I just studied in my class. It’s as if now is the time I’m meant to reevaluate how I react to this life, and regain control of the single thing I do have control over: my attitude.

Returning to the concept of my own 100 Happy Days, I plan to document my next 100 days in my planner and also within this blog through what I’m calling “Communicating Happiness.” Don’t worry though, it’s a weekly blog series not daily! I’m going to take readers on the journey with me as I make my way through the next few months. A lot is about to happen in 100 days–birthdays, senior events, graduation, wedding fun (Maid of Honor duties!), a trip to Disney, moving in with my grandma for the summer, calling NYC my work home for a couple months, starting a career in PR and communications, and of course spending as much time as possible with my family.

I didn’t realize how much actually happens in 100 days until I looked at my calendar and wrote that list out. I know there are going to be plenty more bumps in the road, and plenty in those next 100 days; however, my focus in this blog series isn’t going to be on the bumps. Rather, it’s going to be how I can grow from any falls I may have and plan for the happiness that’s coming next.

Here’s to Day One of #CommunicatingHappiness.

-Rachel

 

A Few Deep Breaths

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

I can hear my dad’s voice now. In order to explain what this means I have a short, well semi-short, story to share.

I used to be a basketball player. Pretty amusing to think about as I am 5 foot 2 with zero capability of sprinting up and down a court at the moment. Basketball was never my favorite sport. Soccer held that role in my life; however, for a while prior to a few injuries, I played all the sports my friends played. Basketball happened to be included on that list. I was usually a point guard, shockingly not a post I know. Before almost every game I would get rather worked up with nerves. Who knows why I was so scared to go out and play a sport for my high school; nevertheless, it happened.

I recall when I would get this worked up, my dad would occasionally hit me with the “you need to relax, Rachie.” My parents were never competitive when it came to my sports, only supportive, so I never felt forced play them. This is why there was zero pushback on their end when I did choose to prematurely quit basketball and forgo my inevitable WNBA career.

As I mentioned, my dad would tell me on many pregame car rides, “you need to relax.” He always told me, “just breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.” He would repeat it until I was actually back on track, breathing calmly.

This was one of my dad’s “phrases.” Whenever I would get anxious whether for my school assignments, sporting events or theatre performances, I could always hear him saying “breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.” It never mattered if he was actually reciting it to me, I always heard it.

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Now, in February of 2017, I still hear it. When I feel myself getting overwhelmed, I hear my dad’s voice in my head: breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. I may not be instantly relaxed, but I definitely get on my way to it.

It is something I know that I will hear forever. And forever in his voice.

Okay, so I occasionally overreact to situations. I over think far too much, and with that comes anxiety at times. When I reach these moments, Dad’s voice will always be there to calm me down: Rachie, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. And of course when I actually am overreacting to a minor situation I’ll hear the just chill out, you need to relax. It will remind me to breathe. Because what I am making into a big deal, is really no big deal at all. At least not something that cannot be fixed with a few deep breaths.

-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