Do Something Every Day That Scares You.

Do something every day that scares you.

This is, without a doubt, the best advice I've ever received. Originally a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, this line was part of a hypothetical commencement address written by Mary Shmich in 1997 titled “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.” Two years later, a narration of the address was recorded, and eight years after that, was burned on a mix CD that played in our kitchen every morning.

While I’d love to say I wear sunscreen every day, truthfully, the only part that stuck in my brain was the aforementioned line. A natural thrill-seeker and lover of life, I venture to try new things as often as I can, much to my mother’s dismay. However, I can confidently say—and much to my mother’s dismay—the best and most valuable experiences in my life have come from times I seized an opportunity, unaware of where the end may take me.

This is what led me to spend two years writing satire for The Black Sheep UIUC. It’s what led me to take a solo trip to San Francisco a few weeks ago. It’s what brought me to Minneapolis on my own after graduation, far away from family and friends, to take a dream job I had chased throughout college. 

Although it wasn’t originally part of My Life Plan™—move to Chicago, get a job in advertising, start taking improv classes at Second City—Minneapolis appealed to a deeper sense of adventure, and I took the job. Although it was fun to explore a new city, moving here was incredibly difficult. On top of adjusting to being an adult in the real world, I had to do it in a city roughly seven hours from home, far from my friends, who were all happily living in Chicagoland. Meanwhile, I was lonely, I was broke, and I was unhappy. So unhappy, I made a promise to myself that if in a year, I was still feeling this way, I would move to Chicago and stick to The Plan™ I originally had created. 

As of today, a full year has gone by since I moved to Minneapolis and started working at FLM Harvest, and what a difference a year can make. I’ve grown in ways I never imagined. I’ve gotten to know myself. I’ve dealt with heartache. I learned so much about digital advertising. I finally sought out treatment for the anxiety I had been dealing with for most of my life. Above all, I now know I can do things on my own. Life is funny that way. You finally think you’ve conquered the world and life and all your inequities once you graduate and get a job, and then you graduate and get a job and you realize very quickly how little you know about life and the world. It’s a humbling, terrifying, but all together necessary experience.

As the sun sets on my first full year in adulthood, I continue to follow the advice of Mary Schmich and Eleanor Roosevelt. A month ago, I moved in with a friend who was a complete stranger five months prior. A week ago, I finally began a project I’ve dreamed about for years. Today, I signed up for improv classes this fall. Tomorrow and the next day and the next, I will continue to do something that scares me because in that moment of insanity and bravery, I learn more about myself and the world around me. 

TBD on the sunscreen.

A Chapter Begins.

I did it. I graduated. I did this BS.

Two years at Joliet Junior College, and two years at Shampoo Banana--Champaign-Urbana.

Four years, minimal debt (thanks, junior college and scholarships!), and countless memories later, I'm finally a college graduate and a productive member of society--I think? 

 See that smile? I'm pretty stoked to be done writing research papers. 

See that smile? I'm pretty stoked to be done writing research papers. 

Oh, and I got a job doing what I love in a location that suits me well. 

In a few weeks, I'll be joining the digital team at FLM+ in Minneapolis as a digital and social media writer. If you know anything or have seen any of my work over the past two years, you know this is a perfect fit for me.

As sad as I am to leave my nest and finally fly away, I'm excited to start a new chapter and start making a life for myself. However, I would be remissed if I didn't include some parting thoughts and advice for the college undergrads looking to maximize their time in the world.

5.) Do your laundry, take showers, work out, and eat healthy when you can. It's not always easy to do all four, but investing your time. It's worth it in the end. 

4.) $10 cover and $4 Blue Guys are rarely worth the price. There is the rare occasion that a sweaty frat boy won't make you feel uncomfortable, but I wouldn't take my chances. While we're on the topic of boys, this next one is for the ladies (and non-gender conforming folks, too). 

3.) Fall madly in love with your body and yourself. You only get one body and one life, and we spend too much time trying to fix what's already amazing and perfect. Your body is powerful, beautiful, and deserves your love. 

2.) Stray from the path. Join a club you've always wanted to try. Take a class just to try something new. My best experiences have come from me pursuing my passions outside of what I thought I should be doing with my time.

1.) Enjoy every last minute. It's cliché, but soon you'll blink, and you'll be saying "see you soon" to some of your best friends. Make memories and enjoy the incredible yet fleeting time you have to be young and kinda carefree. 

Thank you, Champaign-Urbana, for the last four years of memories. It's been real and fun and real fun, but now I have to leave and be a grown-up.

Don't you forget about me. 

Process, not the product.

As my time at the University of Illinois draws to a close, I have started reflecting on my education.

Has the time, money, blood, sweat, and tears been worth it? What have I even learned?

My studies have been in leadership these past four years. Usually, when I tell people I majored in Ag Leadership Education, images of corn fields and classrooms enter their minds. What I've actually been studying is the history of leadership in western civilizations.

It started with believing being a leader was a trait to be inherited, like height or weight. As time marched forward and studies progressed, the world began to understand leadership as a process; a skill that could be cultivated in everyone.

Everyone is different, of course, so everyone experiences leadership differently. For me, leadership is listening to the needs of those around me, and adapting my leadership style to them. It's the Behavioral Approach. Think of it this way--if I were your boss, and you struggled a lot with doing work, I would help you out with it. If you were good, I would be hands-off. It's a win-win for both you and me. 

Emotional intelligence plays into this theory as well. It assess a person's ability to navigate their own and another's emotions. This intelligence helps out in the workplace and really everywhere else in life. One of my instructors said emotional intelligence is far more important and valuable in life than actual intelligence. 

Charles Darwin said once said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all theory that works for every situation for every leader. The best way to handle the situation is assess and adapt. It's as simple as that.

Wait.

I've been absolutely horrible about writing blog posts, which is evident by the lack of content on my blog (one post) and the number of drafts I have written and saved (three).  

While that is the case so far, nothing quite gets me to change like a new year and some resolutions to go with it. Most of them are regulars--go to the gym more, cut back on drinking/eating out/spending money, post content regularly to my blog--but the one that has crossed my mind the most is to stop waiting.  

It's a strange phenomenon for me to be someone who waits. Me, the Type-A personality who started looking for full-time employment last summer--I graduate this May. However, what I've noticed about my "waiting," and the "waiting" of humans in general, is that it's a little more subtle than completing tasks. It means waiting for things that aren't in my immediate attention to get bad. Like, really bad.

I can see the confusion. I know, I'm being vague, but stay with me.

The things I'm talking about ranged from the small--a relationship that isn't very healthy, a peer making mildly ignorant comments--to the near catastrophic--the Syrian civil war, the presidential election.  In each of these situations, I kept telling myself, "Things aren't as bad as they seem. That friend didn't mean to say those hurtful things, that guy was just trying to be funny, I can't do anything to help Syrian refugees, there's no way our country would elect a reality TV host that says and does reprehensible things. " 

Except those things did happen, those things were as bad as they seemed, and in some cases, even worse. Yet they didn't get the necessary attention they deserved because they weren't falling apart or blowing up in our own faces. It was easier to not say anything because it wasn't affecting us. It was easier not to say something than risk unfavorable attention from our friends.

The truth is that things shouldn't have to be falling apart for us to help. We shouldn't have to wait and see children dying in Aleppo on our Facebook feeds for us to care. We shouldn't wait until our colleague uses the N-word for us to call out ignorant behaviors. We shouldn't wait until someone hurts us to realize the relationship isn't worth saving. We can and should start solving problems sooner. The best time to start helping is now. 

In Last Week Tonight's final show of 2016, John Oliver talked about how real change comes not from sharing content on Facebook but by making sacrifices, and outlined many nonprofits that support issues like women's health, Syrian refugees and the LGBTQ+ community.

If you can't afford to help with money, then choose to help with your voice. If something makes you uncomfortable, speak up. If you don't like something, speak up. You were given a strong voice. Use it make the world a better place for you and for everyone.

I want to finish this inaugural post of 2017 with the words of Elie Wiesel.  Let's do better for everyone in 2017. 

Hey There

As Fetty Wap and all the cool kids that listen to him say, "Hey. What's Up. Hello."  Welcome to my personal portfolio/website/blog where I will spill all the exciting details of my life, although I'm not sure how exciting the life of a broke college student can be.  

If you're a family member or friend, thank you for following and supporting me, although you're not going to find anything exciting or new that you didn't know.  For those of you that don't really know me, allow me to introduce myself.  I'm 21 and a senior in college, no full-time job offers and excited/anxious/terrified of what this next 365 days will hold.  I also love using slashes to explain feelings because, like the movie Inside Out tells us, we rarely feel only one emotion at a time.  I also really enjoy using quotes because sometimes, people have already said something better, and why reinvent the wheel, ya know?

Get ready for this wild and bumpy ride, folks.  Like the great George Strait once said, "I ain't here for a long time. I'm here for a good time."