Take A Breath and Hold It In

Trapped, alone, tired, breathless, stressed, confused, etc. All the adjectives describing my life at points when I feel like so much is happening at one time. Anxiety about day to day things on top of this doesn’t help either. Sometimes I just need a break from everything and everyone.

Anxiety is something that doesn’t seem to exist for people who have never experienced it. But I promise, it is very real and very frustrating. You’re scared of things that are irrational, you have changing thoughts at the speed of light, your heart races uncontrollably even if you’re sitting still, you think of a million other things you would rather do than what’s causing your anxiety. It’s frustrating because once it’s there and in your head, it’s hard to change how you feel about it. It’s also frustrating when people think you’re being irrational and dramatic about something you’re afraid of, but those people, have never experienced the full fledged wave of anxiety that can come and go at any given second. Usually it happens at very inconvenient times.

Anxiety is something I’ve struggled with for a while now and until recently, I never sought any help. That was foolish. I want nothing more than to be rid of anxiety and not have to be afraid of the silver coffin aka an elevator, or stop praying every time I’m on the Subway that it won’t break down in between stops, or not be afraid to be in a huge open space, and to stop talking about all the traveling I want to do and finally just do it and not let boarding a plane stop me. Overcoming my anxiety about all sorts of things is something I’m working on day by day but it isn’t easy. It comes in waves and sometimes they swallow me up.

I also worry about regular, rational things like any sane person- money, relationships, health, etc. But these things don’t consume me and control my thoughts and actions like my irrational fears do. Still, sometimes I just feel so stressed on so many different levels that I just need to step back and breathe.

Everyone has a happy place. A haven for when they’re seeking clarity, calmness, and serenity. Whether it’s their bed, a beach, running on a treadmill, sitting on a baseball field, in the arms of someone else, a lake house, a church, whatever. We all have that place where we can go and feel absolute safety. A place to catch our breath. A place to feel okay, even if just for a few minutes.

My happy place is a bench in Sea Isle. Nothing special to the outside eye, but to me it’s a different world. The bench overlooks the bay near the Inlet. I found this place when I was probably 9 or 10 on one of my many stays in Sea Isle. It’s quiet, beautiful, and unknown. It’s like it’s mine. I come here whenever I go to Sea Isle to watch the sunset, think, relax and unwind, listen to music, and breathe. I breathe in the sight and the air and I feel okay and feel comfort in my life that sometimes is harder to find everyday as you get older. That bench is my saving grace.

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(I don’t know who George Hutchinson Jr. is, but God Bless Him for having this bench dedicated to him).

So, as I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels like they’re at their breaking point, or trapped, or scared and confused, go catch your breath. Go visit your happy place, take a step back, breathe it all in, and hold it for a little and then let go. We don’t deserve to constantly feel stressed, we all need some comfort and relief sometimes, so go get it.

 

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Keep Turning the Pages

Reading is quite possibly one of my favorite things to do. For pleasure, that is. I absolutely despise reading textbooks or academic articles, on the contrary that they aren’t boring. Or deal with problem solving, which I never understood how math teachers expect you to learn algebraic equations and impossible calculus problems from reading a $300 USED textbook in college. But, whatever.

Anyway, reading for me has always been relaxing and consuming, somewhat of an escape to my own world. It’s certainly a distraction, if the book is that good, from everything I need to be taken away from. I love the feeling of reading a book so good that you physically can’t put it down because all you’ll be thinking about until you pick it up again is what happens next. A book I read this summer, which most of you reading this can probably relate to, was The Girl on the Train. Oh My God. I was reading pages literally any chance I got. I can’t wait for it to come out in theaters in a few shirt weeks!

It upsets me that reading isn’t as big a hobby and leisure activity as it was a few decades ago. With the advancements in technology and cinema and TV, it has been a slowly decreasing fad. But with that, the physical design and structure of a book has also changed and been transformed into digital form available for downloads on an array of different tablets and kindles. But for me, I’ll always prefer the physical copy of a book over the digital alternative.

Remember ‘Campbell’s Soup, It’s Good for the Soul‘? Well  I think reading is good for the soul. It exercises the mind, it relaxes you, it’s a good way to put you to sleep at night, and even in fictional books, there’s always something to learn within the text of a book. Whether it’s a fact about history, geography, health, sex, religion, culture- there’s always a good chance there’s something within the lines of a book that you didn’t know before opening it. And sure, you can say the same about movies and TV, but with the amount of time a day we’re all spending staring at computer and phone screens, don’t you think it’s a good idea to take a break from the white screen?

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I’m in the middle of reading a book called ‘The Little Paris Bookshop‘ by Nina George which tells the story of man in France who owns his own bookshop, but he isn’t just selling books. Physically, yes he is, but every book he sells, he sells it with purpose. He believes that books can heal people and they’re a form of medication to those who need it. Whether someone is struggling with a break up, a loss, trouble at work or school, etc, he always has the perfect remedy for those seeking it. Check it out!

So, if you find yourself having some free time and need a break from reality, pick up a book, or read some blogs or articles of your interest, and learn something new! Fall in love with characters and indulge yourself in a story line, relate, sympathize, and laugh with the characters! Escape to a world that doesn’t exist, because half the time that’s all half of us are really wishing for. A place to just take a break from the reality of everything happening around us. Keep turning the pages and refer the book to a friend once you’re done and keep the cycle going.

Also, for any boys reading this that think reading is lame, then I guess you’re lame too, because you reading this qualifies as reading!

 

Cross That Bridge When You Get To It

When me, my cousins, and younger sister were little, we used to play pretend with lots of different things such as “play” house, “play” doctor, etc.- you get the point. But the one thing that we used to do often in the Spring and Summer was draw a huge chalk road way around my  driveway. Along this road way included a bridge where you would have to pay, with fake money, to cross. (We each took turns being the toll booth attendant, which today is probably America’s number one most dreaded, mundane jobs out there).

Anyway, we loved doing this and crossing the bridge on our bikes seemed so fun and getting to the other side was something to look forward to because the road way was much larger and bendier than the prior side.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because now I’m realizing that I have crossed so many bridges in my life since then, both physically and symbolically. Some scary, some exciting, and some confusing.

When we graduated eighth grade we crossed the bridge into high school where everything changed. We had to pay a small toll to cross this bridge which basically consisted of passing every class and not being such a devil child that you would get kicked out before your eight years were up. Surprisingly this actually happened to someone in my eight grade class. However, on the other side of the bridge we were granted more freedom, exposed to different and more opportunities, we were introduced to new peers other than the kids you spent the last eight years with, and it was collectively just a new world for all of us.

After our time there was done, we crossed the bridge into college. Unfortunately the toll to cross this bridge was a little more hefty not only did you have to pass all your classes, you were expected to do exceedingly well if you wanted to enroll in a respectable and/or prestigious college or university. In addition, you had to have some extracurricular activities, and you had to score somewhat well on the godforsaken, nearly impossible, makes you want to kill yourself, SAT. aka Satan Attacking Teens. In any case, everyone crossed some bridge whether it did lead to college or to another job, but again, we crossed that bridge, and for most of us, it was into college.

The next four years we had a good idea of what to expect- 5 classes per semester, becoming an alcoholic, and a professional Netflix binge watcher, while still somehow being able to work towards a  Bachelor’s degree which was ultimately supposed to get you a career. Summer’s off, 1 month off for Christmas break, and these generous (money hungry) institutions were even nice enough to provide a week long break during both the fall and spring semesters. Life looked great for the next four years. Of course you were also expected to complete some sort of internship over this duration, but we would all cross that bridge when we got there.

Then it came- Graduation Day. The finish line that seemed almost impossible and nonexistent as a freshmen. Here we are at yet again at another bridge. Except this time, we have no idea what was lying on the other end. Except the toll was pretty extensive- a GPA worthy enough to put on a resume, 120 credits of classroom time, internships, extracurricular, and EXPERIENCE. The most dreaded criterion listed in a job posting (unfortunately your master skills in organizing an entire beer Olympics for all your friends isn’t appropriate to include on your resume).And most of us are still crossing the bridge trying to make out what’s waiting for us on the other side. And that’s okay, because all we need to know right now is that there is another side. And I know there is because bridges don’t just stop mid-point; if they did we’d all be dead and that’s not an option since there’s so much left for all of us to do and see. We still have so many more bridges to cross! i.e. marriage, kids, travel, grad school, volunteer work, etc.

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We may not know what’s on the other side of our post-grad bridge, but for now just enjoy the views as you’re crossing over because as you’re so desperately trying to reach the other side, you might make it there too soon, and wish you were back into the unknown we call post-grad life.

Cheers!

 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Dr. Seuss knew what was up since 1990.

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One of my graduation gifts was a copy of his book, ‘Oh, the Places You’ll GO!’ (corny, but insightful).

Most of us were familiar with this book when we were younger, but as I read it now, it’s so much more damn understandable at 22 than it was at 6. I never thought I would relate so much to a children’s book, except for maybe the Harry Potter series, but in my own personal opinion those books are a series for all ages, but that’s a discussion for another post.

I’ve found myself being very happy recently from all different things like shopping, reading, hanging out with friends- basically jut doing things solely to please myself. And I’m really enjoying my internship at this super cool firm in Old City, Cashman & Associates. Life seems to going pretty great. Emphasis on the pretty.

Everything starts to go really great, until that little voice in your head comes creeping in at night asking you “What are you doing?”. And not the kind of ‘what are you doing?’ where you would answer ‘Just watching tv, hbu?’ to, but a very, very intense question of ‘What are you doing?’.

When I start to accredit my happiness to different things, this voice makes me consider all the reasons I shouldn’t be happy and why I should be more concerned about my current stance in this thing called life. I won’t deny that it’s exceptionally hard to shut this annoying voice up, but sometimes, you just have to. You have to because that wave of panic and fear of  ‘what now?’ and the future will swallow you up and change your entire being. I don’t know how the future can scare us so much, as it’s something so unpredictable and so full of possibility, and something that hasn’t even happened yet! But it does, it scares the crap out of most of us. And to be honest, if you deny being afraid of the future, you’re in a much worse place than the rest of us who are admitting it because you’re not facing it, you’re running from it.

Don’t worry if you’re not exactly where you want to be, or you’re not where you think you should be at this age. Take this time in the present to decide what kind of person you want to be in the future, I think that would be significantly helpful in figuring out where you should be in the world of adulting because if you’re not exactly the kind of person you want to be now, you may never find something you love. In the words of Nada Surf, “To find someone (something) you love, you gotta be someone ya love”. So be the person you want to be and don’t worry about the other stuff for now.

Some days are hard, we all have bad days. But let this excerpt from Suess’ book give you some comfort in the unknown.

“Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.With banner flip flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of guy! Oh, the places you’ll go!”

We’re all gonna find our way, and kudos to those of you who already have, but some of us are just taking a small detour called life!

That moment when $100 only feels like 100 pennies..

Every birthday since I was born, it was somewhat of a precedent that I was given $100 dollars from my grandparents, as does every other of their grand kids, and they all had for all their previous birthdays. I guess it became a tradition. This little chunk of change was also dispersed to each grand kid at Christmas too.

I remember being about 6 or 7 and every year I would look so forward to my birthday, not because of cake and having a day that was primarily all about me me me, but because I was allowed to take that huge $100 bill straight to Toys-R-Us and buy whatever I wanted.

It was the best thing ever. Just getting a hundred dollars to do whatever you wanted with and not having to worry about feeling guilty or dealing with the repercussions of needing it for something else. It was completely blissful.

The more recent years, however, the money wasn’t as blissful as it was a necessity. During college, my birthday always fell on spring break (early March), which was coincidentally always around the same time I started needing money again.

So instead of blowing that $100 on frivolous items like clothes accessories, it would go right into my checking account to support my degenerate habits (i.e. alcohol, uber fare, food, miscellaneous items). Somehow I would basically blow the hundred in about a week, but I wasn’t spending it all in one place, technically.

Still, I always looked forward to that hundred every march, but each year it played a different part in my life and was usually spent differently after I stopped buying toys.

Well, now that I’m out of college, I don’t get that money for my birthday anymore, we now get scratch offs, which is still really cool- thanks grandma!

But now, that hundred dollars would barely help me. $100 at this age is basically equivalent to $1. Womp womp.

Receiving a hundred dollars today and the though process that goes with it goes somewhat like this…

$25 can go towards this credit card,

I owe so and so $17,

My parents need $25 for my phone in 2 weeks,

I’m running low on gas, so I’ll set aside $15 for that,

& the remaining $18 can be put towards dinner tonight with my friends.

It still feels pretty awesome to make $100 in a shift or getting it as a gift, but it disappears within days! There’s so much more to pay for now that your only priority isn’t what toy to buy with your birthday money.

I know I’m not the only one who has these same thoughts about money either. Girls especially. Sometimes my thought processes are so ridiculous when it comes too my expenses..

“I really want my nails done, but I also shouldn’t spend my money on that, but if I just get the regular manicure it’s only $8 as opposed to the $13 gel manicure I’m making myself sick over thinking about..”

“Do I get Natty because it’s only $17 or do I splurge for the $20 case of Bud Light?”

*looks through abundant amount of clothes* “I really need to get a shirt for going out tonight, maybe I can find something for $20”

“My credit card bill is due September 21st, which means I have 7-10 business days to pay it, so I won’t mail it until the 11th, therefore the $25 won’t come out of my account for another few days.”

So, yea. Expenses and finances are pretty annoying at this age, but just remember you’re not the only one who thinks these things or cries over their bank statement.

It won’t always be like this, remember that. One day $100 will only feel like 100 pennies, oh and in the best way possible. 🙂

 

 

It might not be Wall Street, but It’s a Start

Today was my first day at an unpaid internship in the historic and beautiful area of Philadelphia, Old City.

When the summer began to wind down, I was starting to feel both internal and external  pressures of finding a full-time job. Internal because there are days where I do absolutely nothing except lay in my pool and read, which sounds relaxing and not something to complain about, but it makes me feel like a waste of life from time to time. I guess I’m also worried about the gigantic amount of college loans I have to pay back, but they’re deferred for another few months, so let’s just worry about that later.

External from the obvious, my parents, as well as extended family who love to ask the infamous post-grad question that every recent grad dreads, “So, what are you doing now?”. “Well, let’s see Aunt Sally you just asked my mom two days ago, so I think you know I’m still doing nothing”. Frustrating to say the least, right? . But also from everyone else on social media, waking up everyday to Facebook posts like “Proud to announce that I have officially accepted a full-time position at _______ (fill in your glamorous work place here).

Does this make me sound jealous? Yes.

Does it mean I am jealous? Probably to some degree.

Then I realized that I don’t want a job that I’m settling for just because I feel like I need to rush and accept an offer from any company that will have me. I want to do something everyday that I’m interested in and something that will strengthen my career path. Someone once told me that “You’ll never work a day in your life if you do something that you love” and it’s true. tumblr_nny3cxlzi41qj4315o1_500

(EVENTUALLY)

I know, would a steady paycheck be nice right now? Yes. And would I be more at ease having a stable job? Probably. Would I get in less fights with my parents? Absolutely.

But for now, I’m finally doing what I want to do, not doing something else because I feel like I have to. I’m 22 years old, right now IS the time that I get to live for me and only me. I am my first priority. And yes, maybe that sounds selfish, but I think sometimes we’re allowed to be selfish, because if you’re never selfish, you may never get what you want,and that is no way of living.

Be passionate about what you do in your life. Choose something that makes you wake in the mornings with a smile on your face. Do whatever it is that makes you happy.

Shailene Woodley stated these words in an interview a few years ago and they have been hanging on my wall since; “I’m done living for other people. I’m done being a people-pleaser. I’m done thinking about what other people think.”

SO yea, for now, I might not be making big bucks, but I will one day. Just you wait and see.