The Latest and Greatest – September 2018

Updates on my work and writing

 

Fall has always been a time of change for me and in that spirit, I’ve decided to make this site more of a living portfolio than a stagnant one. I want to include updates on my writing, especially with my book, and share links to recent pieces I’ve written. To begin, I finished the first draft of my book!!

I started writing it six years ago (!!!) so it feels amazing to have finally finished a rough draft. It’s crazy that I’ve actually written a book! This is what I’ve dreamt about since I was five and to now hold it in my hands (printed on computer paper and held together in a three-ring binder) feels surreal. I’ve spent the past month reading through it and making minor edits, and will dive in with bigger edits and rewrites after that.

On the freelance front, I’ve had two articles published on SELF.com in the past month, both on asthma. The first piece, “Please Stop Giving All Nerdy Pop Culture Characters Asthma,” is a snarky piece I’ve been wanting to write for awhile. I had a lot of fun with it, but it also felt important to write. Asthma is life-threatening, but is often treated as a joke. Speaking of life-threatening, I also wrote a piece about a serious attack I had almost two years ago – “I Thought I Could Handle My Asthma Attacks, Until I Ended Up in the ER.” In this piece, I got to write more of a narrative, while also tying in some reporting. I interviewed an allergy and asthma specialist to get tips and advice on how people should react when experiencing an asthma attack.

For my job at Maine magazine, we wrapped up our 50 Mainers issue, which I’ve been working on for the past several months. The special section – “50 Mainers Balancing Heritage and Progress” – highlights 50 people doing amazing work around the state to make it a better place to live and work. I wrote 35 of the 50 profiles and got to interview authors Lois Lowry and Elizabeth Strout, as well as activists working on issues of race, immigration, gender identity, and comprehensive sex education. Maine is a very homogenous state and I’m proud that we featured people who are disrupting the status quo and working to create a more inclusive, welcoming Maine.

Also for Maine magazine, I wrote two profiles recently – one on the artist Jane Dahmen and the other on rare apple farmer David Buchanan. With Jane, I was able to look at the deeper meaning of her work and explore what it is to be a mother with a passion that isn’t her children. Society expects certain things of a woman, and putting her own creative interests first isn’t always one of them.

So, speaking of putting creative interests first, that’s what I’ll continue trying to do myself. I’m currently working on editing my book as well as writing and sending pitches to publications with ideas I’ve had floating around in my head for awhile. Those freelance ideas are also competing against essay ideas, residency applications, and blog ideas I have. Time to write.

Failing to Even Fail

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


The title of this post might suggest someone who is perfect and successful and who has never made a mistake in their life. First of all: that person does not exist. Secondly, that’s not what this post is about. It’s about being so afraid to fail that you don’t even attempt something. You’re failing to even allow yourself the opportunity to fail (or to surprise yourself and find success).

The ever-brilliant J.K. Rowling has a quote about this that I love:

 It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

Call it perfectionism or anxiety or whatever else, but I’m afraid to fail. Like, terribly terribly afraid. I always have ten million ideas in my head for projects, articles, and essays and about ten million more ideas for how each one could go wrong. Maybe no one will like it or even look at/read it. Maybe it’ll be so poorly done that I become a laughing stock. Maybe people will talk badly about me behind my back. Maybe I’m just not good enough.

That last one is the biggest fear. As a writer I have a lot of greats to compare myself to. Comparison really is one of my biggest downfalls. I tell myself I’ll never be as good as so-and-so, so why even try. That line of thinking is obviously unhealthy and unproductive, but I can’t help myself.

The fear of failure and fear of not being as good as someone else has held me back so much. There’s so much I want to write, but I don’t because I’m afraid it won’t be good. I pull out my notebook and hover my pen over the blank page. I’m practically begging the words to come out, but nothing does. I’m afraid that whatever I put down won’t be worthy of anything.

Starting this blog was a huge challenge for me because I could only think of all the ways it would go wrong. Now that it’s up and running, I question every post I make and wonder if people hate it. I’m afraid that if in a month or a year I decide to quit the blog, I’ll be a failure.

There was an article in the New York Times a few weeks ago – On Campus, Failure Is On The Syllabus – that explores this fear of failure, especially among millennials and students. It talks about how young people have it so engrained in their minds that everything they do needs to be perfect and that when they do have setbacks or failures, it can be crippling.

Some people say that our generation has this “weakness” because everyone received a participation trophy as kids and now can’t handle criticism as adults. I don’t necessarily think this is true. I think, at least for me, that the fear of failure comes from social media. It’s definitely where the comparison comes from. On social media, everyone presents perfect lives. We know it’s not reality, but that’s hard to believe when you’re staring at a perfect picture of a vacation, a toned body, an awesome party, or a big work accomplishment. The constant barrage of perfection is hard to live up to, but it makes it feel like you have to. Social media also makes it feel like your failure is on full display.

The New York Times article focuses on Smith College and a program it started about teaching students to embrace their failures and not allow them to take over their lives. The initiative acknowledges that failure is a part of life, it doesn’t define you, and it means that you tried.

Before he was a famous writer, Stephen King received a lot of rejection letters – like, a lot, a lot. Instead of throwing them away or using them as an excuse to quit, he hung them on his walls. They practically wallpapered his room. They hung as testaments to the hard work he put in and to the fact that he was trying.

I want to try more. I need to push past the fear of failing and of not being good enough. Obviously the more I try, the better I’ll get. It’s so easy to write that, but I know actually trying more of my ideas for projects and writing will be a lot harder. It means that I’ll be inviting the possibility (and inevitability) of failure into my life. It also means I’ll be accepting the possibility of success into my life. Right now there’s no possibility for anything – failure or success. If at the end of my life I never have published a book or a big article or essay, I want to at least say I tried. I don’t want to “fail by default,” as J.K. Rowling says. I want to fail by trying.

The Post Grad’s Guide to New York City

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


A couple of weeks ago Chris and I spent the weekend in New York City and it was ah-mazing! Despite growing up in New England, I’d only been twice before and had never stayed overnight in the city. We planned the trip last year because Chris got tickets to a super nerdy (sorry Chris) concert – the symphony orchestra for the Kingdom Hearts video game series. While the superfans were a little much, the venue and music were nice, and hey, I got a weekend trip to NYC.

Also, just a little FYI, my knowledge of New York is like this big (aka basically nonexistent) so if you’re reading this and you start thinking to yourself, ‘this girl has no idea what she’s talking about,’ you’re probably right. But that’s ok – if you have recommendations for my next trip I’d love to hear them!

 


Where to Stay

Like most post grads, I’m on a budget and staying in NYC is definitely not the best way to be saving money. We stayed in Queens at a Comfort Inn right next to the Queensboro Plaza subway stop, which was only about 10-15 minutes away from Manhattan. The hotel was around $170 a night, which isn’t too bad compared to other places we looked at. The room was small, but since we weren’t there much it wasn’t a big deal. And it was clean and that’s really all that matters.


Where to Eat & Drink

Unlike previous trips to NYC, this one was based around where we wanted to eat instead of sights we wanted to see. I now swear by this method of traveling because it exposes you to new areas that you might not otherwise have explored.

Black Seed Ok, would a trip to NYC be complete if you didn’t seek out the best bagels ever? No, no it wouldn’t. Black Seed was amaaaaaazing! I’ve had some incredible bagels in my life, but this was far and away the best one ever (sorry to my Maine faves). There are a few locations, but we went to the one in Nolita. Pretty small, but it was cute and we found seating. Get the everything bagel toasted with scallion cream cheese. You won’t be disappointed.

Parm So Chris is a big sandwich person and I’m like a ‘yeah, sandwiches are fine’ person, but Parm has changed the game. Everything I thought I knew about meatball parms is dead because Parm has literally redefined what they are. Ok, this sounds ridiculous, like how could it be that good, but trust me. If you do nothing else in the city, go here and get the meatball parm and let your life be changed forever. And be sure to get it on their hero bread.

Taco Morelos This was another lunch spot for us, but honestly it should have been dinner because we stuffed ourselves. It. Was. So. Good. The place was so tiny (there were only three tables I think), but these were some of the best tacos I’ve ever had. I got three veggie ones and Chris got one chicken, one steak, and one carnitas.

Thai @ Lex So we went here because we were leaving the Met and the food there is crazy expensive and this was close by. It definitely wasn’t the best thai food I’ve ever had, but it was really good and the service was fast. I got shrimp pad thai and Chris got the spicy basil fried rice. Unfortunately we missed the lunch special, but apparently it’s a good deal if you’re looking for something cheap.

West End Hall So we went here for dinner and it was pretty good. It’s like a pub/beer garden with mostly barbecue food. To be honest there wasn’t a lot that interested me on the menu, but I got the barbecue wings and they were insanely good. My biggest problem with the place was that it was so incredibly loud that Chris and I had to move outside because we couldn’t even hear each other. The outdoor seating was nice, though, so that was a plus.

Broadway Dive This bar was very eccentric and wasn’t actually a dive bar, so I’d recommend it. It was very casual and laid-back and had people of a wide range of ages in there. There was a big beer selection (including some Maine beers). Also, the woman who was our bartender, who I’m pretty sure was the owner and appeared to be the only person working there, was really cool and friendly.

Coffee: Ok so we went to a lot of different coffee shops and they were all amazing so I’m just going to list them: Happy Bones NYC, Think Coffee, Bean Me, and Abraço. You can’t go wrong with any of them.


What To Do

 

Strand Bookstore OH. MY. GOD. I was in book heaven! I could have spent the whole weekend here. It has over 2.5 million books. 2.5 million!! Unfortunately I didn’t buy any books because then I would have had to lug them around all day, but I did buy a really cute tote bag and I’ve used it pretty much every day since I bought it. If I lived in NYC it wouldn’t be rent or food that would bankrupt me, it would be this store.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art This was my first time going to the Met and I loved it! We actually went twice because it was so good and also really big so we missed some stuff the first time. The Met is awesome for cash-strapped post grads because you pay whatever you want to get in. You can literally pay $1. One of my favorite exhibits, which is only there until July 30, was the Irving Penn Centennial exhibit. If you enjoy photography and fashion, I highly recommend it.


Honestly, we didn’t do much else. I know that sounds boring, but like I said earlier, the trip was really based around food and coffee shops and then exploring different neighborhoods near them. Aside from the Met we didn’t do anything touristy, which was really nice. It showed me a new side of New York. A calmer, less chaotic city that I could actually see myself living in one day. After all, that is the dream.

What are your favorite things to do/places to eat in the city? Let me know in the comments!

The Best of [June]

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


Is it seriously almost the Fourth of July? Summer always takes forever to get here and then when it finally arrives it feels like it’s almost over. Needless to say, June has flown by. It’s been a busy month for me between camping adventures and trips to NYC. Anyways, here’s what I’ve been loving this past month.

What I’ve been {watching}

Jane the Virgin This show is everything! The third season is finally on Netflix and I’ve been bingeing hard. I feel like a lot of people don’t watch this show, which is really their loss. It’s structured like a telenovella so it’s super dramatic and over the top, but it’s really funny, inspiring, and also incredibly heartbreaking (you’ve been warned). Also, Jane is amazing. Like, a perfect human being who I’d love to best friends with.

What I’ve been {reading}

Sweetbitter ICYMI, I read Sweetbitter this month. Check out my full review here. It’s about a 22-year-old named Tess who moves to New York to have a fresh start and the world she finds isn’t exactly what she expected. In some ways it’s better, in other ways it’s terrifying. I definitely recommend this to fellow post grads.

Learning to Fail This was the main story is the Style section of this past Sunday’s New York Times, which I read on my train ride home from the city, NBD. It’s about the insane pressure college students put on themselves to be perfect and successful and it’s insanely relatable. I plan on writing a full post about it in a week or two so I won’t go into too much detail here. Stay tuned.

Roxane Gay profile ELLE magazine has an amazing profile of feminist writer Roxane Gay in its June issue. Seriously, this should have been their cover story. In case you don’t know who Gay is, she’s the author of Bad Feminist and the recently released memoir, Hunger. She’s incredibly outspoken and unapologetic and doesn’t hold back when it comes to sharing her opinions or defending herself. The profile, written by Marisa Meltzer, focuses on Gay’s experience as an overweight black woman who uses her writing to change people’s perspectives about different life experiences. If you’ve never heard of Gay before, or if you’re a big fan, I suggest reading this piece.

What I’ve been {listening to}

Melodrama If you haven’t listened to Lorde’s new album yet what are you even doing with your life?? She is seriously a genius and her second album (and her first album and everything she does) is proof of that. I have been listening to it nonstop since it released two weeks ago. It might not be quite as good as Pure Heroine, but it’s this close. Fave tracks: Writer in the Dark, Hard Feelings/Loveless, Sober II (Melodrama), The Louvre, ok really I could just list every song.

Post Grad Reads

Why I Insta Stalk My Career Crushes via Vogue

When You Hate the Job You’re Supposed to Love via Catapult

Template Toolbox: 2 Email Templates for Networking via Idealist Careers

How To Answer The Dreaded “Tell Us About Yourself” Question in a Job Interview via HelloGiggles

 

>>> Photo by Colleen Kelty

{Book review} Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


When I first decided I wanted to write book reviews on Post Grad Purpose, I figured I’d be writing about career advice books (see: The Big Life). Then I read Sweetbitter and before I was even halfway through I knew I’d be blogging about it.

Sweetbitter, which came out last year, is a novel about a 22-year-old woman who moves to New York City by herself in search of something, anything, new. Sounds like your classic cliched story about finding yourself, right? Wrong.

The novel follows Tess in her first year in NYC where she quickly lands a job in an upscale restaurant filled with workplace politics, drama, and the kind of kinship that only comes from working in a hectic kitchen. The story was darker and grittier than I expected, but it was honest. It didn’t hold back. Post grad life is full of anxiety, stress, and deep gut-wrenching fear – fear of the future, of the unknown, and ultimately, of failing.

What I really enjoyed about Sweetbitter was how it redefined what success is and what it means to different people. Success doesn’t have to be a straight climb up the corporate ladder. Success isn’t a cushy office job that’s easy to talk up at a networking event. Sometimes success is sweating and getting blisters on your feet while discovering a new passion for food, wine, and the people around you. It’s about being happy.

Tess definitely wasn’t happy all the time, though. A lot of the time she wasn’t. She was often confused. And often lonely. The story wasn’t tied up neatly in a perfect little package. It’s about a young woman discovering herself and coming into her own. It’s about claiming your space in the “adult world” in a way that works best for you.

Stephanie Danler has a very poetic way of writing and the novel was full of great descriptions and analogies. Also, a lot of the lines in Sweetbitter really spoke to the different emotions experienced in post grad life. I’ve included some below.

For when you’re uncertain if you should push yourself to go after new opportunities, or to create your own:

“The world is abundant – if you invest in it, it will give back to you tenfold.”

 

For when you tell yourself ‘once I have this job or this title, everything will be great’:

“What do you think happiness is? It’s a mode of consumption. It’s not a fixed state.”

 

For when you’re lying to yourself about the things you want in life:

“When you can’t see in front of you life is nothing but surprises. Looking back, there were truly so few of them.”

 

For when you can’t imagine not feeling this lost or confused:

“I had a blundering, lost feeling as if I had been digging tunnels, not knowing if I was going up or down, only that I had no other option but to keep going.”

 

For every other thought you have in your twenties:

“Was I a monster or was this what it felt like to be a person?”

 

For when you’re wondering what this is all about:

“There are many times in life when it’s good to live without knowing. I mean that we can allow ourselves to live and not really know what it is we’re doing. It’s an accumulation stage.”

 

Know of any other books about life in your twenties that would be good for me to read and review? Let me know in the comments!

What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


Wow, this is my first post in June and the month is more than halfway over. Oops. As you can tell from the title of this post, I’ve been super overwhelmed and have pretty much neglected Post Grad Purpose. I was even considering quitting, but I’m not doing that. I’m really passionate about this idea and the potential for the blog and I’m excited to start focusing on it more. First though, I need to calm down.

overwhelmed

I’m a pretty stressed out person. I think I once told my boss that stress is my baseline emotion and all other feelings work around it. Anyways, I think there’s being stressed, and then there’s being overwhelmed. Stress is more in the moment or related to a specific thing, but to me being overwhelmed occurs when the stress just builds up to a point where you can’t handle it anymore. Being overwhelmed feels like you could break down at any moment, and sometimes you do.

Being overwhelmed is pretty common in post grad life. You’re trying to find a job or you hate your job or you feel like a failure or you can’t manage your finances or you literally have no idea what to do with your life or maybe all of these things at the same time. There’s a lot to figure out and you can feel alone in the struggle. I have been there more times than I count. Thankfully I’ve learned a few ways to deal with these messy overwhelming feelings.

Unplug

I’ve found that when I’m overwhelmed, social media doesn’t help. Scrolling through people’s presentations of seemingly perfect, successful lives isn’t going to make you feel better when your own life feels like it’s falling apart. Turn off your phone for an hour or two (or longer if you can) and forget it exists. Social media and other updates can feel like endless inescapable chatter from the rest of the world and it can send our minds into overdrive. Step away from your computer too. The less electronics, the better. It’ll clear your mind and help you focus on more important priorities.

Go into nature

Because I was feeling so overwhelmed, I went on a camping trip last weekend. I used to go camping all the time as a child, but lately I’ve barely been at all. It was amazing getting away from the noise of my life and just relaxing in the woods by the ocean with my boyfriend. My phone died on Friday and I didn’t charge it until Sunday and it was so freeing not having it. Being surrounded by nature puts things into perspective because it reminds you how small you are and how your problems will eventually pass and work out. If you can’t go away on a camping trip, go for a hike or to a local scenic spot.

Visit family and friends

Something about going home always makes me feel better. Depending on your family situation, spending a few days in your childhood home and seeing family and old friends is so nice if you’re feeling overwhelmed. It reminds you of simpler times. Whenever I go home I find it so easy to forget about the stress of my “adult life.”

Lose the drama

As in TV shows. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, bingeing dramatic or intense shows doesn’t help. Earlier this year I was watching The Fosters on Netflix (which is such a great show!), but since I watched so much so fast, the heaviness of the show really bought my mood down. If you’re feeling overwhelmed don’t invite more drama into your life. Stick with lighter shows – I suggest Friends, Parks and Rec, and The Office.

Write it out

I have been journaling since I was seven years old and I swear by it. Writing down your thoughts and worries is so helpful because it gets them out of the swirling mess of your head and down onto paper. Writing helps calm me down and shows me that things aren’t as bad as I built them up to be. I usually surprise myself when journaling because I reach new conclusions and find new ways to look at whatever I’m dealing with. It’s gotten to the point where my mind can sense if I haven’t journaled in a while. It’s like this weird gnawing feeling that’s telling me to just write it all down.

Take a break

If you’re feeling super overwhelmed, it’s ok to take a break. Your mental health is more than worth it. Take a personal day from work if you can or at least step back from a few other commitments and let yourself slow down. Sleep in, let your emails build up, and breathe. We’re all humans. We can’t have it together all the time.

If you have any other tips for dealing with stress and being overwhelmed, please let me know in the comments below!

The Best of [May]

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


Well, May is just about over, which means summer is almost here. I’m always surprised at how fast May goes by, but maybe that’s because it’s my birthday month (thoughts on turning 25 → here). The month has been really busy, so I don’t have as much to share in regards to what I’ve been watching and listening to. My reading, however, didn’t take a hit.

What I’ve Been {Watching}

  • Master of None season 2 Aziz Ansari’s amazing show is finally back! I feel like this show is super underrated for some reason and I only know a handful of people who watch it. Everyone is seriously missing out because this show, which is a Netflix original BTW, is everything. It’s hilarious, thought-provoking, relatable, and artistic, and covers a wide range of social issues. I still have a couple of episodes of the new season left, though, so no spoilers please.

What I’ve Been {Reading}

  • Tiny Beautiful Things Cheryl Strayed is a genius. If she started a cult, I would join it. I read her memoir Wild about two years ago and loved it and this month I finally read Tiny Beautiful Things. It pulls from her advice column Dear Sugar, which she wrote anonymously, and covers every topic imaginable. The advice is so raw and honest and I underlined at least half of the lines. This is a book I’ll be keeping by my bedside.
  • 11 Years Old, a Mom, and Pushed to Marry Her Rapist in Florida I’ll admit, I was drawn to this New York Times op-ed by the click-bait headline. The issue of child marriage, though, is serious and completely overlooked in our country. As the writer points out, this isn’t a problem just affecting girls in third world countries. Girls as young as 11, 12, and 13 are being married to men 2-3 times their age everyday in the U.S. Read this and then please, please do some research into how this can be fixed.
  • The Book of Unknown Americans I was seeing this book everywhere on Instagram and its beautiful cover drew me in. Luckily, the words inside were just as good. It’s a story about a teenage boy who falls in love with a girl with a brain injury, while also weaving in their families’ stories (and other people’s stories) of immigrating to the U.S. from Latin American countries.
  • Glaciers I found this little book at Brattle Book Shop on a Memorial Day weekend trip to Boston and read it in two days. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like it – it leaves a lot unsaid. It follows one day in the life of Isabel, a twenty-something woman from Alaska, as she reflects back on her childhood and how she’s spent her life obsessed with the past. Very good, unique read. (Sidenote: In a college, I did a photo essay about this book store and this is the first time I’ve been back since. It was just as awe-inspiring as I remembered it.)

What I’ve Been {Listening To}

  • Bad Liar Selena Gomez is killing it and I’m loving it. As I mentioned last month, I’m a huge fan of hers and have been since I was like, 16. When I first heard this song, I was sort of slow to like it. It’s very different. Now though – this song is on repeat and probably will be all summer.

Post Grad Reads

What Returning For Graduation At My Alma Mater Taught Me About Post Grad Life

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


Feeling way older than you actually are

If you’ve ever been back to your college campus as a post grad, there are probably a few different things you felt – nostalgic, excited, hesitant, and above all, old. Yep, even at only a year or two out, you feel old. Going back to campus after graduation, even if your school is huge and no one recognizes you, makes you feel like you have a giant target on your back. You think everyone knows you don’t belong anymore. They wonder why you’re there and why you haven’t moved on.

In my first two years post grad, going back to UNH felt weird. Like I said, you feel old. Like, super incredibly elderly old. You have a job and bills and student loans and other random adult nonsense and you feel so removed from college life. Going back to UNH for graduation this year felt a little different, though. I hadn’t been on campus in almost a year and I was finally able to feel excited about seeing everything again.

With that said, I still felt old. We hit up the college bars Friday night (NOT MY IDEA) and I definitely felt out of place. It didn’t really bother me as much, though, because I now feel more settled in my “adult” life. So instead of playing it cool and trying to act like I belonged, I instead acted like this the whole time:

Finding Your Own Pace

In the past going back to UNH for graduation has made me feel a weird mix of sadness and jealousy that I fortunately didn’t feel this year. Usually this weird feeling comes from wishing I could be in the grads’ shoes again. You’re just starting out, the possibilities are endless, blah blah blah. I’d get these thoughts in my head of, ‘well if only I were 22 again I wouldn’t waste time stressing about whether I’m a real writer and I’d actually go for it and put my work out there.’ I see so many young people who have wild success and I kick myself for not pursuing more opportunities right out of school.

The thing is, though, you can’t always realize what you want without first going through that weird murky phase where everything stresses you out and you have no idea what you’re doing. You can’t always just be on this perfect path to success and always know the right decisions to make at the right times. That’s not possible. You have to be confused sometimes and doubtful and you’ll make wrong choices or do random things because you literally have no idea what you’re doing. That’s ok. That’s normal.

I’ve been learning to be ok with where I am. I used to beat myself up for not being that 22-year-old with a six-figure book deal. I’d see someone else do it and think I missed my chance. I’m only now realizing how not true that is. Someone else’s success doesn’t negate your ability to do amazing things with your life. No one’s path is on the same schedule and comparison is more likely to derail you than someone else’s achievements will.

College graduation speeches are always about chasing your dreams and making the most of every opportunity, but I think that sets people up for disappointment and self-doubt. I’ve learned that while it is important to go after opportunities, it’s also ok to slow down and explore the things that interest you and to spend some time learning about yourself. You don’t have to be constantly down on yourself because your dreams haven’t come true yet, or because you don’t even know what your dreams are.

Whether you graduated this month or five years ago or ten even, take a breath and realize it’s ok if everything hasn’t worked out yet. It will. Just try to enjoy the time it takes to get there.

Thoughts on 25

Originally posted on Post Grad Purpose


Yesterday I turned 25 years old. People always ask on your birthday if you feel older and the answer is always no, but I have been feeling older lately. Not because of my birthday specifically, but throughout the past few weeks. Older might not be the best description, but I feel different – good different. I feel a new sense of clarity in my mind that I’ve never really felt before. I feel like I have, or I’m starting to have, a better sense of the things that are important in my life and what I value. Those things are Chris, my family, a handful of friends, reading, writing for writing’s sake, being outside, and being honest and authentic.

And to be honest, I’ve struggled with this blog. I know it’s only a month old, but after two weeks I stepped away from it. I haven’t posted anything in a while because I didn’t know what to say. I came across the poem by Rupi Kaur (posted above) and it sort of smacked me in the face. My blog didn’t really feel authentic. I set out to write posts honestly talking about the struggles of post grad life, but I immediately got caught up with writing for an audience and creating strong social media posts. These things, the social media especially, began draining my happiness. The blog wasn’t reflecting how I really felt and I felt fake because of it.

I started realizing the other ways in my life I was feeling unauthentic. I questioned the career I was dreaming of and the writing I was doing (not just for the blog). I’ve been realizing how important simplicity is for me. I don’t like being overwhelmed or having my mind filled with chaos, and yet this is exactly what I was doing all the time. I was chasing things I had no real interest in and spending my time and energy on things I didn’t care about. I was doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing and comparing myself to what everyone else was doing. It was making me so unhappy.

Over the past few weeks I’ve felt some of the chaos leave my mind. I’ve felt settled. I feel kind of stripped down in my mind if that makes sense. I don’t have it all figured out, and for the first time maybe ever I don’t feel the need to figure it all out. And I feel free.

I hope 25 brings more clarity and that I can continue to focus on things I actually care about. I want to try new things and not follow any certain path. I’m excited to see what happens.

{Book Review} The Big Life by Ann Shoket

Originally posted on Post Grad Purpose


Let’s start by saying this – Ann Shoket gets it. She knows what millennial women are going through and she’s somehow able to take the jumble of stress, fear, and ambition that’s spinning around in our brains and give us a book that addresses everything we’re thinking. I picked up (re: pre-ordered) The Big Life because I’ve loved Shoket since she was the editor of Seventeen magazine. I have the stack of back issues in my childhood closet to prove it. I loved her work then and it only took me 2 or 3 pages of her new book to realize I still do.

“You know you have more to offer than the world is letting you.”

Ann Shoket

YAASSS ANN! I don’t even know how many times I’ve thought this over the past few years. I feel like it’s a pretty common feeling among millennials. We know our worth and we want the chance to prove what we’re capable of. You think, ‘if only this person would hire me or at least give me an interview, they’d see how amazing I am.’

In The Big Life, Shoket talks about this desire to have your dream life. She understands that millennial women want fulfillment in all aspects of their lives, but this book isn’t about “having it all” and flawlessly achieving a perfect life. Shoket has a mantra: “Embrace the mess.” 

In the book, Shoket talks a lot about how millennial women are revolutionizing what a career path can look like. It’s not a straight line to the top anymore. Women are creating their own positions, fighting for what they’re worth, and basically just bringing to life the visions they have for themselves. We’re not sitting back and waiting for things to come our way. Shoket grasps how the world is changing and how young women understand their own potential. “This moment of change in the world is your opportunity to make your life bigger instead of letting the force of change make you feel small and overwhelmed…

“You have the choice to be the architect of change or to let change happen to you. Take the reins.”

Ann Shoket

The book has useful real-life advice on how to network, ace an interview, and ask for a raise. She also gave really great advice that felt more like I was being let in on top secret information. For real, I underlined like half of this book. She talks about little things to do that will make you stand out to your boss, tips on how to build your brand, and how to become indispensable at your company.

One thing I really admire about Shoket is that she doesn’t claim to have all the answers. She did a lot of research for this book, which she made clear by featuring interviews with entrepreneurial women and sidebars written by women in their twenties. The sidebars were cool because some featured women who seemed just like me (one actually said “Kate, age 24”), while others were less relatable (like making six figures at age 22 unrelatable). Both ends of the spectrum offered a lot of insight, though, and it was nice to know that all these women crave the same happy, successful life I do.

Being happy with your life was a main theme throughout the book. It’s not a straightforward career book. It’s a book about living a life that aligns with what you want for yourself and what you know you’re capable of achieving.

“You want what you do for a living to feel like actual living.”

Ann Shoket

Another thing I appreciated is that Shoket doesn’t just refer to women’s futures. She emphasizes enjoying the present and embracing the journey. Your life isn’t just where you end up, it’s where you are right now too. If your current situation isn’t ideal, though, she has advice for that too. Well… she quotes Barbara Walters, but still: “Don’t imagine that your life now is the way it’s always going to be. You have no idea the adventures in store for you. You have no idea how interesting your life can become.”  

Incase it hasn’t been clear, I definitely recommend this book. I’ll admit, I didn’t really connect with all of it (the dating scene and super ambitious NYC finance women who don’t sleep), but overall I really enjoyed it. Shoket not only understands millennial women and what we want for ourselves, she validates our dreams and encourages us to push ourselves even harder.