Reassess

What do I really want? What am I actually after here? 

This is what my meditation prompts me to think about today.

9:30am I’m facing the window in my room, eyes closed, with my legs crossed gently and hands resting lightly on top of my thighs. Over the past few months I’ve built a consistent meditation habit, practicing 10-15 minutes each morning (thanks, Calm!) I follow it with a passage from The Daily Stoic, a book which provides an excerpt from the writings from ancient Stoic leaders, accompanied by an explanation of how the teaching can be applied to daily life. This was a gift from my boyfriend, and in truth it came at just the right time.

The first part of 2019 has been, for lack of a better word, hectic. Having left a position in the music industry in search of a new challenge, I was happy to start a new media/sales job in the fall – only to have it apart at the seams come February. While there were signs that this opportunity was not as it seemed, its inevitable end left me unsteady. Having discerned that this was simply a poor fit weeks prior to being let go, I continued to persist, showing up daily ready to prove to my manager that I was worthy of my position, and prove to myself – along with family and friends – that my decision in taking this job wasn’t for naught. You know when you date someone you are fairly excited about and try to make it work, only to be dumped a few months in? Well, it felt like that. Objectively I understand that this was just a job, and that I am imperfect, and that is okay. I took a risk, and it didn’t pan out. My ego, however, was not so easily unbruised.

10:15am Headed into the city to take The Class by Taryn Toomey. Did I knock it the first time I tried it? You bet. But the joke was on me, because now I’m absolutely obsessed. There is no other workout class wherein you can dance, move, scream, and shout at the top of your lungs without judgement. There is a mirror to check form, but the real focus is turned inward. I feel it is one of the few places I can go in this city to escape, to fully release, so I make sure I am in that studio 2x per week.

For the past couple of months, I’ve retreated into myself. I took the month of February to refresh and to ease the tension built up from months of emotional exhaustion. I went to California to visit a good friend to provide some perspective. After 4.5 years of hustling through various professional experiences ranging from turbulent to toxic, I realized was effectively burnt out. While I was happy to be out of an unhealthy work environment, I was simultaneously discouraged and lost, caught in a pattern of self shame and blame. However illogical I knew it was, there were times when I did not feel worthy of anything, namely committed relationships, unconditional love, or multiple chances. Why should my boyfriend, a person that has himself together professionally, stay with me, a work in progress? Why should my parents offer help after sending me to both private school and college? Why would my friends, all very high-achieving and wonderful individuals, deal with me while I figure this all out? With these thoughts becoming more regular and feeling less and less like myself, I started therapy again, and not a moment too soon. It is there that I reminded that I am not defined by my career, nor can my identity be minimized to my results. I am worthy, no matter my present situation, and to lean into the less glamorous parts of the process, however uncomfortable.

2:10pm Back in Brooklyn, thinking about this mornings meditation. What do I really want? What am I actually after here?

In the short term: increased knowledge and security, in both my job and finances. To admit that I want to make real money here and now is something I’ve been afraid to fully accept for years, fearing the abandonment of my creative roots.

Longer term: I want to be an impeccably strong communicator, create meaningful relationships/partnerships, mentor young women in business, empower communities through the arts, and help bring new voices to the surface. I want to continue to learn about philosophy, music, language, interpersonal theory and communications. I want to be financially free, making enough money to live well in the location of my choosing (and to travel regularly) and also enough to give comfortably to initiatives outside of myself. And I want to do it on my terms.

4:30pm As I spend another afternoon on the job hunt, scouring LinkedIn, Indeed and Vettery for new opps, I realize the abundance of choices that lay in front of me. After almost two months of unemployment, of feeling powerless to my circumstances, I feel both re-energized and excited to find something new, to change directions, to explore a new skill set. In knowing I can only focus on what I can control, and that each new opportunity will present a chance to learn and grow, I can only look forward to whatever is next for me.

Therapy

7:30am. I’ve been laying in bed for 20 mins, though not actually awake enough to get out of bed. I rarely wake up before my alarm, so I try to pinpoint where this restlessness is coming from – its not Christmas morning, nor do I have a big interview or a flight to catch – whats the deal?

Thats right – I’m starting therapy today. True to form, I’ve been repressing my underlying worry about the whole thing and its now coming to the surface in the form of poor sleep quality. I can acknowledge that my repressing of various emotions is one reason why I’m going to therapy on the first place. I’d argue that my level self-awareness is quite high, but self-awareness means nothing if you don’t use it as a catalyst for change. I make myself a hot cup of lemon water and sit out on my deck, enjoying this moment of solitude before heading out.

8:15am. Listening to Optimal Living Daily while waiting for the J. I’ve replaced music with podcasts for my daily commute, as I’ve read that you should incorporate positive, informative material in your morning routine to set the tone for your day. Admittedly, I’m only half-listening as I’m still a bit on edge about my appointment – there is something beautiful but equally terrifying about confiding in a stranger, disclosing the deepest parts of your fears, wants, and desires.

To be fair, I’ve done this before: I was 22, cursed with a proclivity for model fuckboys and stuck in a toxic work environment (surprise: they were linked!) At the only went for three sessions, but in that time I had multiple breakthroughs which facilitated my growth into the person I am now, and I’ve always been open to the idea of going back when the time came. At 26, my problems are different, but the sentiment remains the same: I need an objective person to talk to about my life, as it stands, and how to work through whatever is holding me back.

For all my trying to hold it together at all times, I can recognize that whatever I am doing right now – from meditation, to yoga, to affirmations – is just not enough to manage my insecurities about my career. Work – huge part of who I am – is very much a work in progress, and its all-consuming. Unfortunately since age 16 I’ve been possessed with an insatiable desire to succeed in entertainment and media, wherein people are  notoriously overworked, underpaid, under valued. After four and a half years and several great opportunities, I haven’t quite found my place, which leads me to wonder will I ever fit it in anywhere? Should I be worried? Am I living in a fantasy world in search of the perfect job? Does that exist? Should I go work at a fucking bank? Is my therapist going to think I’m ridiculous? These are the things I wonder as I walk into her office.

To be clear, I count my blessings daily: I have a job, a salary, and a roof over my head. I have a full life outside of work, a family, good health, and a wealth terribly cliched first world problems. These pure luxuries, for which I am grateful, cannot stop this innate feeling that I am floating through life, happy enough but barely scratching the surface of what I am capable of, wasting my tremendous privilege. No amount of “you’re doing amazing sweetie” from my ever-adoring mom, motivational memes, or words of affection from my boyfriend will help.

So, therapy it is.

 

On Quitting

I quit my job two weeks ago. No, I did not have another offer lined up or a trust fund to fall back on. Was it a reckless move? Sure. But it was one of the best I’ve ever made.

One of the things I am most grateful for is my incredible support system. My parents taught me the value of working hard, but also of maintaining integrity and involving myself only in things and people that make me truly happy. While they may not always understand my choices (not going to grad school), my jobs (a career in the arts/music industry), or my path in general, their support never wavers. My friends have always been there to listen to the rants that inevitably come with a less-than-traditional career path. After weeks of bitching about my job, I told them I quit and was met with nothing but unending support. Yes, things may be uncertain I will undoubtedly have to hustle my ass off, but they never failed to remind me I will land on my feet. That right there is worth more than gold.

While positive thinking and pursuing happiness is important to our overall wellbeing, so is getting to the root of our problems and taking action. Issues at work, in life or love don’t just go away and sometimes you need to sit in your shit and find a solution. Some things – including jobs, people and relationships – are simply not for you and cannot be forced into being otherwise, despite your best efforts. Maybe something that was once working for you and brought you joy, such as a dream job, partner or environment, no longer does. Mental shifts and change are all inevitable parts of life, and being honest with yourself (though scary as hell) is integral to individual growth. We are conditioned to believe that outright suffering is a part of the process, and while not everything is perfect or glamorous in the pursuit of success, it is important to recognize when something just doesn’t feel right anymore and to be able to walk away.

Quitting is not always the answer, but can serve as a catalyst for change – and it should only be done when your problems in a current situation are no longer fixable. We are too often and too easily tempted to give up on things before we have truly assessed if our problems are solvable. If you’re feeling unmotivated at work, can you change your mindset to become more productive? If you’re feeling an emotional distance between you and your partner, have you thought of new ways to reconnect? One bad week at work is no reason to throw in the towel and one bad argument with your significant other isn’t reason to break up. Knowing when to walk away is a valuable skill that should only be applied when absolutely necessary.

There is a shame around the concept of quitting, but I urge you to change your perspective. No, you shouldn’t abandon things before putting in the necessary work, but if after all of your effort is exhausted things are still not progressing, know that walking is an option. Despite what society has told you for your entire life, you do not always need to wait for good things happen. Taking agency is one of the most rewarding things in this world, and while things may never be perfect, we have full control over making our time on earth as happy as possible. If you are at a college you hate, transfer to find a better environment. If you aren’t getting fulfilled by your friendships, make new ones. If you aren’t fulfilled at work and there is no change is sight, leave and take a temporary position to keep the bills paid till you land the next gig. Do what the hell you need to do. If that makes you a quitter, then so be it.

On Anxiety + One World Trade

Two weeks ago I started a new role at Conde Nast as assistant to the Editor in Chief of BRIDES. In a short amount of time I have learned the fundamental ins and outs of the leading wedding magazine and the editorial world – a realm that I always admired but did not think I could enter as I spent the bulk of my post-graduate life in the music industry. Though still new in this space I feel very much at home – with a boss that is inspiring and supportive and surrounded by women who create as easily as they breathe. Conde Nast is an international media powerhouse and BRIDES is the ultimate women’s magazine. Every day I wake up grateful to be involved in this space of endless creativity, and that is feeling is priceless.

Conde Nast is located at One World Trade – the main building of the former World Trade Center complex in lower Manhattan. The building, also known as the “Freedom Tower,” was completed in 2013 and has become a symbol for the resilience of Americans and particularly New Yorkers in the wake of 9/11. While it has been 16 years since the tragedy, I know that the pain still lives with most New Yorkers regardless of their individual closeness to the attacks. The memory holds us together, and One World Trade – which at 1776 feet can be seen from anywhere as far as New Jersey and out to Long Island – stands as a reminder of our resiliency.

While I was anxious about starting a new career path, I did not anticipate the anxiety of working at One World Trade. I was nine on September 11, 2001 and living an hour from Manhattan. While I heard stories and saw video footage of the attacks, I did not lose any acquaintances, friends or family members.  From childhood through college I was notoriously laid back and rarely anxious about anything. This changed after moving to the city, though I never thought I was any different than other New Yorker – taking my regularly heightened sense of worry and paranoia that comes from living in post-9/11 America as normal. While I am not in a constant state of panic I have always kept my eyes and ears open for suspicious behavior, as I am constantly reminded to do by NYPD’s “if you see something, do something” campaign.

Until the recent attacks abroad in London, Paris and Germany I was not fearful for my life. Perhaps I have been coddled by a safe childhood, the privilege of living in a nice (re: painfully gentrified) Manhattan neighborhood and eight years of Obama (if you’re reading this – I miss you very much!) Now more than ever I feel on edge, with news outlets constantly churning out reports of extremely volatile international relations and the election of the reckless and dangerous new President man-child in the White House. There are police throughout the subways in full-body armor and machine guns. Military personnel line the surrounding area of One World Trade, consistently on high alert and ready for attack. All of this, combined with working in a building that was once targeted for representing our nation’s strength, is truly eating away at my own.

I have been working on combating these fears, mainly through seeking the highs of exercise-induced endorphins and detoxification of hot yoga. I practice conscious breathing daily and diligently take my adaptogens. I make sure to call my parents every day and visit my grandparents at least once a week. While I value my alone time and need solitude for at least an hour every day, I actively make time for friends and things I love, including writing and margaritas. Conversely, I have tried to remove toxic people from my orbit. I try to complain less, which is incredibly difficult because I like to talk shit.  All of this helps, though it takes determination to stick to such practices. I may seek out a group of people who are equally worried about the state of the world, but for now I am determined not to let fear take control of my life. I have found that it helps to give thanks daily, carving out a few minutes every morning before social media and starting my day to express gratitude for the life I have been given. And for being able to live in the greatest damn city in the world, which is not up for debate so don’t @ me. To anyone struggling with any type of anxiety in this day and age, I urge you to try and do the same because its one of the few things keeping me sane.

Sometimes You Need to Quit Your Job

I left my first job on Friday. I was always told to trust my instincts and for over a month something simply did not feel right. Instead of choosing to return to the office on Monday, I spoke with HR and simply told her that while I greatly appreciated the opportunity I was not happy and felt that it would be better for myself and the company if I collected my things and moved forward. In an industry where literally 50 people are queued up and ready to take your place, I knew there was someone better suited for the job long-term. It just wasn’t me.

Yes, I am now unemployed. My mom, while shocked that I would make such a decision in this unpredictable job climate, is being supportive and understanding, as I would often call her during my lunch breaks to help restore some of my strength. I made certain that I had over 6 months of expenses saved up, and obviously I will be cutting back a lot, something I should have been doing anyway. I will also need to choose whether or not I will keep my job on my resume or not, which I have yet to decide given the mixed feedback from those I have confided in. It is frightening, it is exciting, and my dad has no idea.

I am well aware that your first job is not always your favorite and that I need experience in the work place. Then again, it should not take every fiber of your being to get out of bed every morning and motivate yourself to do your job. The pressure after college to find a job immediately is serious, and the expectation that you will know exactly what you want to do is forced on us from the time we enter high school. I do not subscribe to the theory that everything needs to be “figured out” right away – there are still adults figuring it out at this moment. My whole young adult life up to last week I had thought I wanted to be a talent agent. My entire undergraduate career, extracurriculars and internships were centered around that goal. Now thinking that my career goals are no longer what I originally thought is probably the most terrifying piece of this, but I have no doubt that there is something better out there just for me and I am not willing to settle for whatever is thrown my way. The last thing I want to do is make leaving a job a pattern of mine, which is why the next few weeks are going to involve a very thorough evaluation of where I want to go next.

While not having a job is scary, there is something to be said about the fact that I was relieved after leaving the office. Even waking up today knowing that I would not have to clock in was a bit jarring as I was used to having the structure, it is thrilling because I have no idea what I am going to do next. I know that I have an incredible arsenal of skills from my academic career and degree (communications) and those developed over the years of collaborating, learning, and growing inside and outside of the classroom, so it is those I will bring into my job. My work ethic is strong when I am passionate about the tasks at hand, and that passion is what I am searching for. I have also had time to think about my other interests and goals outside of agency work, and want to explore editorial, PR, non profit, or even sports careers. Then there’s grad school and entrepreneurship, two things that have always interested me but I have put off with the idea that I should have some “real world” experience first. I am getting a do-over, and now everything is on the table.

More than anything, I have been thinking about my wants, something that I don’t do much given my tendency to want to please those around me. If I am going to go back to a standard desk job, I will need to be in a high-energy and collaborative environment, not simply sitting behind computer day in and day out. I need to be hands on and able to interact and connect with those around me, because that is where I thrive. It is possible that I am not made to be at a desk five days a week, and I need to be hands on and see my work come to fruition in a meaningful and tangible way, and feel a sense of fulfillment knowing I made an impact. These are the things I need most to be my best as an employee.

College students: please do not grab the first opportunity that comes your way if you are not at least 75% sure about it, just to appease others. Also, keep an open mind. I’ve learned there are so many avenues out there that you can take, and it might be one that you never considered but aligns directly with your passion. If you are money motivated, there are literally countless ways to make a great living for yourself that your parents or college may have never told you about outside of being a lawyer or doctor. Explore those avenues to the fullest, and do not let a looming graduation date override your intuition.

The Struggle

In a city where there’s always something to do at any given moment, you can never say you’re bored. Nor should you ever be, as if you live in the most expensive US city you’d better be making it worth every penny (I’m convinced the high cost of living is due to the fact that everyone wants to be in close proximity to the action, and that’s what we are playing for). The lovely thing about NYC is that there is so much to do, and luckily some of these things are free. Most, however, are not. There are concerts to see, bars to try, festivals and showcases to attend, and most importantly food to eat…and lots of it. Unless you have the hook up, which I can sometimes get by turning on the charm, there will be money involved and its not for the faint of heart.

Though my mom suggests “finding nice men to take you out” (she is an OG, I have not really jumped on this advice just yet). is the best Whilst in the throws of job searching, I have been doing everything I can to explore what summer in the city has to offer, and I refuse to turn down an opportunity or a good meal (even if my bank account hates me afterwards…which it does often). I spend the hours that I am not working at my restaurant gig exploring various neighborhoods and enjoying the simple adventures and stimulation this city supplies. Also, happy hours.

Harlem Tavern, where I spend all my money.
Harlem Tavern, where I spend all my money.

Going from a highly structured environment (college) to a completely structureless one has been somewhat of a struggle. I feel like I am on an endless vacation and find myself exhausted at the end of the day even though all I really did was make breakfast, workout, apply to jobs, read, make dinner, and go out. It’s odd but fun waking up in the morning and not knowing what to expect and acting on a complete whim. I know I can’t live like this forever, but there is something luxurious about this lifestyle. I often wonder how I am going to adjust to a real job where I have to be somewhere ON TIME at 9 am 5 days a week. It is completely different from going to school, holding an internship, or any other work-related obligation that most people my age have needed to do, as its no longer “part time” it is essentially every day for the next 30-40, possibly more, years of life.

 I want to build a future for myself and put in the work necessary but also focus on thriving in the present. In that sense, my struggle lies in enjoying my life right now but also wanting/not wanting to work. Luckily after talking to my friends, I know I’m not alone in this and not completely insane (just extremely optimistic). Everyone wants to make their passions their career, but this is even more the case for me as I cannot work in a place I hate or that does not inspire me/motivate me to be at my best every day. Though I do not expect my first job to be my last, nor do I want it do, I am holding out for a job that is the absolute right fit, as I want to give it my all. Until then, I’ll be reading for fun, drinking on Sundays, and having a great damn time.

Living alone and being unemployed affords me an incredible amount of flexibility to do various things, such eat candy for breakfast or go to out on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays (aka the weekend for New Yorkers). It is freeing, scary, unpredictable, and it tests my willpower and strength daily. It also tests my wallet, as I am the absolute worst when it comes to budgeting (which has to change). I certainly can’t say that I’m struggling, but I can say that I’m having the time of my life. I do need to start cooking more though. This going out to eat every night shit is not going to fly forever.

What Do You Bring To the Table?

Let me start this post off by saying I am all about people striving for the best in all aspects of their lives from personal to professional. I do not ever want to see people settling for less than they deserve in love or in life. With the exception of becoming president, I believe that most of our dreams are not outlandish and can be achieved with the right amount of confidence, dedication, and a strong work ethic.

Something I have noticed recently, specifically within my age group, is that most people have a whole lot of confidence, which is great, but low levels of authentic dedication and an even weaker work ethic. Somehow we have come to believe that simply by going through the motions we can be “great” when really we are on the road to being average at best. Every day I go online and see countless posts about “making it”, and while everyone has a different measure of success, the ideas pretty much remain the same. I probably read about 10 “I’m going to make a million by the time I’m 30 #dontbelievemejustwatch” tweets before noon on any given day, but most of these people are folks I know in real life who spend more time online than anything else. What are YOU doing to make your dreams a tangible reality? You want to be a millionaire? What are you doing to make that happen? Your friends say you’re pretty and that you should model? Instagram is great but separate yourself, get some professional photos taken and put yourself out there. You want to be an activist or motivational speaker? Use social media, of course, but get out there and make a difference in your community too. You want to be a rapper? Great. Nobody is going to discover your greatness while you put minimal effort into your craft (production, image, promotion, etc.)

Many of my peers are seniors, and are furiously on the job hunt. Many times I hear these students complaining about how they have not gotten hired yet. News flash: just because you are “nice”, “work hard”, and have a high GPA does not mean shit. Recognize that in the job search YOU are not doing the company a favor by applying, and unless you literally shit gold there is a chance that you will lsoe out on job opportunities to one of the thousands of candidates they are looking at. In this competitive job climate, being a “recent grad” is not enough: the employer has to see why they should do you a favor and hire YOU.

The same basic outlook on achievement transfers over to relationships as well. From a young age we are told to “reach for the stars” and women in particularly are told to find the one who treats them like a “princess”. I do not want to blow up anyone’s fantasy right now but none of us are princesses, and as much as we deserve to be respected and cherished, the men in our lives should be receiving that same respect in full…not coming to “save us” and put in all of the work. We all want a loving, sexy, smart, successful, and respectful man but what are we doing to attract them? I have heard people say that if they meet a man who is not fully established by 25, he is no longer in the running as a potential partner. But the question you should ask yourself is where will you be when you are 25, and if you will be deserving of a fully mature man who has his shit together by then (which is only a couple years from now, by the way). Many men are guilty of this too: she has to be a 10 but you’re a strong 6 at best, she has to have her own but you can barely provide for yourself, and she must be loyal but you are out here pretending to be single. I really need to know, aside from mediocre sex and having a car, what do you bring to the table? 

For me personally, I know that I am in no place for a relationship because I am not at my best. I know my strengths: I am giving, compassionate, a good communicator, positive, smart, and driven. But I am about to move to NYC with no concrete plan whatsoever except for where I am going to live. Do I want to jump into a career right away? Do I want to travel? Do I want to go to grad school next year? I don’t know the answers to these yet, but I do know that I want to be more established and make choices on my own before I bring somebody else into my world. Right now it is chaotic and the only thing that I am certain about is that I want to explore and find out things for myself. While eventually I will want a partner who stimulates me on all levels and makes me want to set my solo status aside, I want to be at a certain level of success and maturity so that I am ready to elevate that person with me.

This post is not to knock anyone’s dreams, but simply to shine light on the fact that for most, success does not come easy. Not everyone gets “discovered” and not everyone makes $100,000 a year by doing the bare minimum. Not everyone’s first job is their dream job, and not all of us are going to become famous writers or video vixens who get to make their living off of writing tell-all novels (do we really want that life anyway?) I want us all to be great, and in turn attract and achieve what we truly deserve at work, at home, or wherever we choose to go. While we all deserve the best, but we need to make sure that we are our best selves first.