My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Lately it seems like there’s a lot of bad stuff happening in the world. I don’t know about you, but day after day my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of bad news and almost nothing else—a space that used to be full of puppy videos and exciting updates from my friends both near and far now is filled with anger, hate, and, most strikingly, fear. And a few puppy videos… but not nearly as many as before. I find that I have to keep reminding myself that there are still good things going on in the world, we just aren’t focusing on them right now. And that’s okay. The political climate of our country right now requires us to be vigilant and stand up for what is right. But recently, I’ve been struggling to make sure that looking at my social media doesn’t ruin my day.

A few days ago, I had spent too much time looking at Facebook and reading articles about racism and antisemitism running rampant, and was basically having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (thank you very much Judith Viorst). I was feeling frustrated, worried, and honestly scared about the events that have recently been going on (no, I don’t mean the attack on Sweden) and the future of both America and the world in general. And it definitely didn’t help that I was also feeling frustrated, worried, and scared about my own future that day, too. You see, I’m in this place right now where I’m networking my heart out (if anyone has any contacts in publishing please hit me up with a message, leave a comment, find me on LinkedIn, slide into my DMs, send me a carrier pigeon, WHATEVER works for you), but because of the nature of the industry, I can’t apply for real jobs yet, and of course, while I can research my heart out, it’s still too early to find a place to live too. So, while my friends are figuring out where they’re going to grad school, applying for jobs, getting engaged, or even just picking classes for the fall 2017 semester, I’ve been kind of stuck. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled for my friends—I love seeing them get closer and closer to attaining their dreams. Brie Larson said just the other day, and I truly believe in this, “You know what’s better than winning? Watching your friends win.” But, especially on the day in question, I was feeling like I was trapped in quicksand rushing downwards towards graduation (and everything that comes afterward), unable to move or prepare or do anything whatsoever to get ready to hit the ground.

That evening, I was walking across campus to a meeting when I ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while. We walked together for a while and we were talking about our plans for after graduation. He told me about how his plans were falling into place, and when he asked me about mine, I explained how I was stuck waiting. We had reached his destination, and before he left, he stopped, looked at me, and said “You know, these things have a funny way of working out” and walked away.

I couldn’t get those words out of my head as I walked on towards my meeting. They had immediately lifted my spirits. At first I was a little alarmed by them. Yes, things often have a way of working out, but I couldn’t just sit back and wait for that to happen magically. It still takes hard work, drive, and passion to make things work. But I also believe strongly in the power of positivity and positive thinking. Yes, I still need to work my butt off to figure out what I’m going to be doing next year, but it’s okay that I’m not quite there yet right now. I’m doing everything I can and that’s enough—regardless of where my friends might be. This is applicable to my worry about our country also. These things have a way of working out. We have survived through countless wars and trials, which I can only imagine felt similar to what we’re experiencing now. We will survive this too. I refuse to even think that we might not, because that constitutes giving up, which is exactly what we must not do right now. It will take hard work, drive, and passion to make it through, but I know that I don’t have to worry about that. My entire Facebook newsfeed is filled with people full of the drive and passion to keep us moving forward. But we must be careful to stay positive as well.

My friend could not possibly have known that his words were exactly what I needed to hear to pull me out of my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. And at the time, I didn’t have the presence of mind to thank him. So instead, I’m passing them on to all of you. Be positive. Work hard. Trust yourself. Trust the people around you. These things, whatever your things are this week, have a funny way of working out.

Stop.

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about Adele’s big moment at the Grammys last weekend. No, not when she won Song of the Year. Or Record of the Year. Or Album of the Year (SLAY, ADELE). I’m talking about when she chose to stop her tribute to George Michael mid-song and start it over. If you haven’t seen the clip, check it out here (also you should go listen to the song, because she kills it).

This was a huge decision for Adele to make. I mean, stopping a live performance any time can be taboo, but stopping during the Grammys is on a whole other level. As a musician, I can easily imagine Adele’s thought process at that time—mostly because I’ve been there before. Okay, not at the Grammys, but still. As one of the leaders of my incredible a cappella group (which you should check out here!), I’ve been in situations where we’re performing one of our songs and all of a sudden I realize—oh God, please no—it’s not sounding like it’s supposed to. At all. At this point, I normally plaster a giant everything-is-okay-everything-is-alright smile on face and try to figure out if it’s salvageable or if we’re going to need to stop. I can only guess that Adele’s inner dialogue might have been similar during her performance… except maybe with a few more curse words involved. Needless to say, it’s a hard choice to make, and to make it at the Grammys is a brave one. By stopping and starting over, Adele made a bold statement. In a room full of larger than life celebrities, with her friends and all of America watching, on a night that is supposed to be the biggest night in music, Adele said, “I’m human, I’m not perfect, and even the best of the best mess up sometimes.” Okay, actually she said, “I know it’s live TV, I’m sorry… I can’t do it again like last year. I’m sorry for swearing and I’m sorry for starting again” but same difference.

As I was trying to figure out what to write about this week, my thoughts kept coming back to this moment. I think there’s a lot to be learned from it. First of all, it’s okay to make mistakes. If Adele can mess up a highly anticipated tribute during the Grammys in front of millions of people, I can accidentally leave an important piece of paperwork in the copier at work, instead of filing it back where it needs to go. Humans, all humans, make mistakes.

Next, Adele showed us that it’s okay to be emotional. This week, I was having a conversation with some friends about how we all tend to bottle up our negative emotions and everything is fine, everything is good, everything is okay, and then all of a sudden the littlest thing tips us over the edge and we’re all giant balls of emotion that has been building up for weeks and we’re lost to our feelings. I think one of the reasons my friends and I, as well as so many other people, do this to ourselves is that we are conditioned to hide most of our emotions behind walls—perhaps because we have been taught by the media and celebrities (like all of those at the Grammys) to constantly strive for perfection. Those walls might only come down when we’re alone, in a safe space, or maybe not at all—at least until something tips us over the edge. But Adele doesn’t maintain the super cool, almost cold, calm and professional demeanor that one might expect from a celebrity. Instead, she lets out a curse and tearfully apologizes to the crowd and everyone watching at home. She doesn’t hide her feelings but rather shares them with her audience, creating a touching moment. And what she does next is equally important. She then pulls herself together and delivers a stunning performance. If you didn’t know what had just happened, you never would have guessed that she had been close to tears just moments before she sang “Fast Love.” Adele shows us the importance of having the ability to pick yourself right back up again if you stumble.

Finally, I think there’s a sort of lesson to be found in stopping. This world is crazy, possibly now more so than ever. We are constantly going, constantly moving, and, if you’re anything like me, your brain is always thinking five steps ahead of your hands about what needs to be done next. This week was wildly busy for me. I was full-throttle all week, running between class, meetings, and work. When I have a week like this, I’m not always the best version of myself, and I think the same can be true for a lot of people. When you have a million things to do and not enough time to do them, don’t you become at times a little brusque or absentminded, and even put off basic needs, like eating or sleeping, until a later time? You might get a little “off key” from your normal self. This week, when I had the feeling that things might not be quite right (oh God, please no), instead of plastering that smile on my face, I reminded myself to stop—just like Adele did—and reorient myself to be kinder (to others and to myself), more efficient, and more focused on the task at hand. It was a challenge for me; I definitely didn’t succeed all of the time. But I’m going to keep working on it, thanks to Adele.

In the end, Adele made one of the hardest choices an artist can make and got a lot of flak from both the media and people watching (Twitter can be harsh) for stopping her song and starting over. But I think she made an important choice, one that she can stand by and one that might have been able to teach us all a little something. I, for one, only love Adele more after she stopped her performance. She showed us that she’s human, something that celebrities rarely do, and that even on the world’s biggest stage, it’s okay to just stop.

To Be a Student or Not to Be a Student

I have a perfect view of the New York City skyline from my window at school. Most nights, I can see the lights on the buildings. That’s how close I am to the city. So since I’ve been back at school, every night before I go to bed, I spend a few minutes looking out my window at the city. I wonder about where I’ll be a year from now (let’s be real, six months from now—YIKES). Where will I be living, will I be working where I want to, will my daily routine be radically different then than it is now? (That better be a yes, otherwise I’m squatting on some college campus spending my days going to classes I’m not registered for and pretending I’m an RA.) At night, when I can see those lights, all of those questions morph. During the day, they’re slightly panicked, stressful questions that make me a little insane—okay, maybe more than a little. But at night, they’re hopeful and optimistic. The thing about graduating from college is that your whole life is lying open in front of you, ready for you to make of it what you will. It’s ready for all of your mistakes and your successes, the plans you’ve made and the twists and turns that wreck your plans—everything that makes life life. Sometimes, that emptiness and freedom are scary to me. But when I remind myself to think this way, it’s really exciting and exhilarating.

I’ve been thinking about this a LOT lately because this week I start my last semester of college. Monday was my last first day of school. Spring 2017, the semester I’ve thought, talked, and dreamed about for the last four years (if not more), is finally here. To be honest, I’m living it and it still doesn’t seem quite real. But I’ll tell you one thing: it’s pretty terrifying. Exciting, happy, relieving, and wonderful, but also daunting. And it’s been making me think about identity. Not my name, where I’m from, what I do, etc. (all of which you can find on my About page—shameless plug!), but what makes me who I am and all of that kind of stuff. While I have many identities in that sense of the word, one of my biggest and most central is being a student. For almost all of my life, I’ve been a student. And come May, I won’t be anymore. I KNOW, it’s weird. As someone who has always (for the most part) enjoyed school and learning (although I could do without the tests and the homework and the papers and… okay, there’s a lot of school I don’t like), this has been a really strange thought for me lately. Unlike a lot of my friends, I have no plans to go on to graduate school. After May, I will no longer be a student who has to go to school or take classes or do homework (that part is a HUGE relief). I’ve been a student for 17 years and I can only imagine that taking away an identity of that magnitude will leave a hole. Of course, new identities will fill the hole as I go through life. I’ll become an employee, an editor, maybe even a wildly successful blogger (have you told your friends about how funny I am yet? No? Oh, okay), and who knows what else! And of course, just because I’m no longer a student in the traditional sense of the word doesn’t mean that I’ll ever stop learning and growing; I have absolutely no intentions of stopping that ever. But, I think a piece of me will always miss that traditional student part of my identity that was so important for so long. Which is what makes me so happy I don’t have to give it up… at least, not yet.

Whether I’m ready for it or not (spoiler alert: I’m not), second semester senior year is here, I am graduating in less than four month, and it’s going to be great, regardless of what happens.

A New Year… and a New Blog!

My mother has been telling me that I need to start a blog pretty much since I began college. Every time I come home from school, and often over the phone, she says to me, “Becca, you really should start a blog.” So now, nearly four years later and headed towards graduation, I’ve finally decided to listen to her. (Shout out to my mom, probably the only person reading this—hey Momma!) Over the years her topic suggestions have varied; apparently I’m an expert on everything from books to curly hair to music to college survival tips… who knew! But my mom’s most recent suggestion was that I write a blog about my “trials and tribulations.” What? Who would want to read about those? Besides, it’s not like I have any real trials or tribulations. I’m not battling a life-threatening disease or becoming the youngest person to travel the world WHILE SPENDING ABSOLUTELY NO MONEY (side note: if anyone knows how to do this, let me know, please—we can be co-bloggers!) or doing absolutely anything else spectacular that other people might also want to learn about or do or experience; I’m just a twenty-something trying to figure out how to “make it” in the world, just like a million other twenty-somethings just like me. And, if we’re being honest, I have NO idea how to even do that. So, after spewing out all of those reasons why I shouldn’t do it (my typical response to starting something new), I asked my mom why she thought my “trials and tribulations” were blog-worthy. After a pause and a left turn—we have most of our groundbreaking discussions in the car, doesn’t everyone do that?—she said, “Lots of people get a kick out of reading about other people’s struggles…” and implied that I struggle more on a daily basis than most humans do in a week (thanks, Mom) and could probably entertain a lot of people. So, here we are (cue “Let Me Entertain You” from Gypsy), with me doing the virtual equivalent of a kick line.

Although I’m sure you all (and by all, I mean my one reader; hi again, Mom!) would love to hear about my so-called “trials and tribulations,” I think that this blog will be about a lot more than that. I’d like to think of this as sort of a conglomeration of topics. You know, one week it might be a great recipe I found for a super yummy dessert (I love baking), and the next it might be a book review, or a list of songs that I think you MUST check out RIGHT AWAY, or advice on how to not procrastinate on that big project (in which you can procrastinate by reading my blog), or, if all else fails, a harrowing recount of the latest trial or tribulation I’ve conquered. In short, who knows where this will go? I certainly don’t. But I’m going to give it a try. Why? It’s a new year; it’s a chance to (hopefully) work on my writing; I’ve been told that I’m funny; it might look good as I attempt to get a publishing company to hire me (HI Penguin Random House!!); maybe this will help one of those million other twenty-somethings that I mentioned earlier have some idea of what they’re doing if they can learn from my mistakes; and, if nothing else, maybe, as my mother originally thought, my struggles can provide some entertainment to someone out there. So welcome aboard! Here we go… And by the way, thanks Mom.