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: 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

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

 

World Poetry Day

On my final night of spring break before heading back to my last block of college, I couldn’t sleep. Instead of sleeping, I found myself putting words together in my head: a poem. I haven’t written a poem in years. This is why it’s so strange that the night I wrote a poem was just a couple days before today’s World Poetry Day.

I was a child who loved words. I even received a collection of poems one early Christmas because of my interest in poetry. I was one of the few students who adored the chapters in high school English when we analyzed poems; however, since attending college I have lost touch with my love of poetry. My mind has been so focused on research papers, social media writing, blogging, writing for professional communications. I forgot that I once admired creative writing, embracing imagery in my words, sharing emotion with a reader.

Now let me get one thing straight–I was no young Maya Angelou; however, I did enjoy the challenge that poetry brought with it. The vulnerability you must have to put emotions into words and find the right word that feels perfect for every line.

I wrote the following poem while sleepy, emotional, and desperate to put words to paper (or my phone, which I probably need to stop sleeping so close to). Again, I’m not saying I’m a poet, but that’s not going to stop me from writing. Just like being on the verge of tone deaf doesn’t stop my love of showtunes.

This is what those words became.

Titled: “We Overcome”

Children play
In fields of freedom.
With innocence
And superficial fears.

Time passes,
As it does too fast.
Play lessens,
Fears deepen.

Dark clouds,
Halt children at play.
Storm looms near,
Air thins.

Or so it seems.

Time passes,
As it does too fast.
Play lessens,
Fears Deepen.

Clouds part,
Light emerges.
Storm distances,
Air is plentiful.

We overcome
Our loss of innocence.
Freedom is near,
Angels at our sides.

-Rachel