Monthly Archives: July 2014
July 31, 2014
Most high school guys spend their Friday nights playing Xbox, going to see the latest action movie in theaters, or playing in their high school’s weekly football game. Well like many of them, I never missed a football game. In fact, some people would say I had a pretty critical role on the team. Some people would say I was the most notable face of the night. Some people would say it wasn’t a game without me, while others would just ask “Who’s the kid in the lion costume?” That’s right. I was my high school’s mascot, ‘Reggie the Lion.’
Just look at me as every father’s dream come true! I mean, I was at every football game, knew all the rules, and even traveled with the team. The only difference was that I just did the whole “football” thing my way. Look, athletics have never been my strong suit. When you grow up performing at the New Jersey’s State Theatre, singing Broadway hits, and tap dancing in local community theatre, you aren’t exactly the coach’s first pick for Quarterback.
So when I got to high school I knew I had to make my mark in a different way. Though, I never expected my “mark” would involve sweating in a 30 pound furry cat suit. I guess you never know what the world’s going to bring you!
It all started because of my freshman year American History teacher, Mr. Simpson. Every history teacher at my school coached a sport, mainly football, basketball, or lacrosse. Some even coached Girl’s field hockey. Needless to say, they loved the athletes. With this being said, my lack of skills on the field didn’t exactly set me up to be the Teacher’s Pet in the History Department. However, thanks to my outgoing personality and never-ending chattiness I won over Mr. Simpson. It became apparent his way of relating to me was to laugh politely at my jokes and stick me in a lion costume – his version of making me athletic. Mr. Simpson’s the one that encouraged me to try out for the mascot job. That’s right – there were tryouts.
I had to prepare a minute-long skit where I was instructed to act something out in the mascot costume without speaking. I chose a crowd favorite, a workout routine to “Let’s Get Physical” by Olivia Newton John. The 70s-born cheerleading coach loved it. You can call it one of my first public relations lessons in knowing your audience. And that’s what it took to get the job of Reggie the Lion.
Now that I won my spot on the team, the next step was performing at my first football game. You might think it would be embarrassing to dance in front of a thousand people dressed in a head-to-toe lion outfit, but it was quite the opposite. I oddly gained a lot of self-confidence. I didn’t have to worry about how I was feeling that day, or worry about how my hair looked. I didn’t even have to worry about being judged for looking goofy – goofy was implied in the job description. I just had to worry about entertaining the fans and having fun. My personal insecurities went out the window for the two hour game.
That’s a lesson I keep in mind on a daily basis. I think, in a lot of cases, true happiness comes from expressing who you are to your full capacity. I believe the first step to building positive relationships with others is developing a positive relationship with yourself. How can we be expected to accept other’s flaws, if we can’t even accept our own? And let’s face it; flaws are a common place in everyone’s social life, office life, and relationships. We just need to make daily small changes to better ourselves and forget about harping on negativity. I guess you can call this my take away from my mascot days.
July 22, 2014
After growing up in New Jersey and attending Rutgers University, I knew I was ready to study abroad and explore a city other than New York. In my head, I always pictured myself studying by the Thames in London, at a cafe in Paris, or putting my four years of German to the test in Berlin.
To my dismay, the only program appropriate for my major was in Brighton at the University of Sussex’s International Summer School, a city and school completely unfamiliar to me, located almost two hours away from London. Not going to lie, I was initially a little bummed about being so far from where I had always imagined my study abroad experience to be—especially since I arrived about a week before the London 2012 Olympics.
Getting off the plane at Heathrow and directly on a bus to Brighton was bittersweet. Catching a glimpse of the Tower Bridge (with Olympic rings!) was not fun. But I was with one of my best friends, excited to arrive at school, see where we would be spending our summer, and make new friends.
I didn’t expect to love the young, vibrant, south coast city of Brighton, at least not as much as I knew I would love London, but I did. The University of Sussex’s International Summer School draws in students from all over the world, and within two days, I had friends from Los Angeles, Chicago, Germany, and The Netherlands. As cliché as it sounds, I really learned so much more outside of the classroom. I mean, how can you not? I spent nights on Brighton Beach with my European friends, talking about differences in healthcare, what our hometowns were like, and the best condiments for French fries—the verdict? Nacho cheese.
As a communication major, I loved the challenges that intercultural communication created for me in building relationships abroad. Technology is continuously making our once very big world more globalized. More and more companies are opening offices overseas, making it more crucial to understand your international audience, especially in the public relations field. If I didn’t study at an international summer school, I would not have had the same experience, and would not have noticed that I want to take my career on a global track. For that reason, and so many more, I wouldn’t trade my time in Brighton for anything.
July 15, 2014
My roommate and I were still in a crunch to find housing a week and half before we were supposed to move to New York to begin our summer jobs. Everybody said to take a look at Brooklyn‒ it was generally cheaper than Manhattan, and the area was filled with artsy people. We ended up finding an apartment in Williamsburg, and upon arrival, were instantly charmed by the cute, bustling neighborhood. Unfortunately, we were also quick to notice that Williamsburg was not a magical land where everything was affordable.
It is taking some time, but we have begun acclimating to our surroundings and learning where to find great deals. Wandering through Williamsburg with no particular destination in mind has led me to find places such as Vanessa’s Dumpling House, with quick and cheap dumplings, noodles, soups, smoothies, and bubble tea. My roommate and I have also indulged in a nearby restaurant called Vinnie’s Pizza, where the slices range from wonderfully greasy with bacon to delightfully classy with feta. While many vintage stores I’ve visited have been surprisingly expensive, I have also stumbled across a colorful vintage thrift shop where everything is within the price range of a working student.
Recently, my roommate and I scoped out Brooklyn Flea, which is in our neighborhood every Sunday, and it is a perfect microcosm of Williamsburg. Both the market and Williamsburg itself are packed with stylish clothes and a variety of food, but it is necessary to search diligently in order to find the best deals. Scavenging racks after racks requires persistence, as does walking up and down streets. And of course, there are hipsters everywhere. The summer sun can be tiring, but locating that $1 freshly-scooped Italian ice or those $10 print pants can make the search worth the effort, and I am excited to continue my exploring.
July 10, 2014
To say I am an optimist is an understatement. Some find my positivity charming and refreshing, while others find it annoying. One of my grade school teachers said it wasn’t normal for someone to be so happy all the time and to always have a smile on their face. Strange, right? I make it a point to try and always leave my house or enter a room with a smile. Why? Because why not? Life is a gift that too many people, including myself, often take for granted. Why waste one precious moment being unhappy?
It’s not always easy to be happy, and don’t get me wrong – I do have my off days. But it’s the effort I make to be happy as often as possible that counts. You would be surprised what a smile can do to your mood. It’s not as difficult to be happy as you might think.
Here are some surefire ways to brighten your daily life that I’d like to think contribute to my own happiness:
• Surround yourself with positive people.
It’s a lot more worth your while to be around people who want to be happy and enjoy life. Positivity is contagious, so catch that cold!
• Give yourself some “me” time every day, even if that just means taking a five minute walk alone.
My “me” time is when I’m at the gym, or walking to work, or to class. Sometimes it’s just nice to be alone with your thoughts to reflect on the good, the bad, and everything in between.
• Do the not-so-obvious things that make you happy.
This is easier said than done. For me, it’s finding the time to go to the gym, driving my car whenever I have the opportunity to do so, and spending time with my friends and family. Oh, and watching The Real Housewives of practically every state in America.
• Eat healthy.
When you put healthy things into your body, you feel good on the inside and out. You can’t help but smile from reaping the benefits of properly fueling your body. You will have more energy to do the things you love. And let’s be honest, how can anyone not smile when they feel their best?
• Treat yourself.
This one contradicts my previous point, but I’m a firm believer in our bodies needing a well-balanced diet, sweets included. Just be smart about it and savor those cheat days. What’s the point of eating healthy all the time if you don’t reward yourself every once in a while, right?
Another effort I make often is to live each day to the fullest. This means stepping outside your comfort zone and doing something you have always wanted to do. Stop pushing things that make YOU happy aside, and quit saying, “One day I’ll do that.” Do it today! If not now, when is “one day?”
When I’m older, I want to look back on my life and say, “I did it right.” Maybe I traveled a lot or worked my dream job. Perhaps I enjoyed my fair share of concerts and festivals. Maybe I met some people who have changed my life, or perhaps I changed someone else’s. Whether we do all of the above or none of the above, we don’t have to go skydiving to live our lives to the fullest. But don’t let fear or a bad day hold you back or keep you down. Figure out what makes you happy, then get up and make moves!
July 3, 2014
It amazes me that I now live in southern California. Until a little over a month ago, the furthest west I had ever been was Memphis, Tennessee. I have done my fair share of traveling, from every state up and down the east coast, and a few trips to Europe, but I never expected I would live on the West Coast at 23. I left Asheville, North Carolina on a Saturday morning with a car full of clothes, some necessities and my dad in the passenger seat for an opportunity that I knew would change my life. My Dad had lived in Texas for a year but never had the time to do much exploring. For the first time together, we were both going to venture far west and it was an exciting journey to say the least. We decided to take our time and see as much as we could in a week. From Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Santa Fe to Flagstaff, Arizona, the most exciting stop we planned was the infamous Grand Canyon.
We arrived at the southern tip of the canyon in the late afternoon on a Wednesday. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car and even a short walk through the parking lot felt like it took ages. Trails jet out from the pavement of the lot and once we passed under a narrow row of trees. The earth opened up with an overwhelming view of air, sky and rock for miles. The throngs of people and foreign languages uttered multiplied as we got closer to the viewing areas. The first time I looked out into the steep and plunging canyon, all of my expectations were exceeded.
My dad and I were just enamored by the view in front of us.
I knew that I would be stirred by the size of the canyon, but what surprised me most was the sight of huge ravens circling in the distance overhead. Where I grew up in Virginia, hawks are the most prevalent birds of prey. I know they’re just birds, but they are HUGE and so serene as they glide effortlessly through the air.
We took one of the trails headed north, going along the edge of the canyon and reminisced about family back home we would have liked to share the moment with. Being at the canyon marked the first moment that I felt the tide was drastically turning in my life. When I first left home, the journey felt like a vacation and the destination (LA) far, far away. But being at the Grand Canyon was unlike anything I had ever seen or experienced before, and I felt a significant distance from what I had previously known. But having my dad with me on the cross country trip definitely helped me adjust and embrace the unknown awaiting me in California. I could never have successfully (nor would I have wanted to) embark on my American odyssey alone. Though I have always believed it is best to accept change into your life, even when it is really drastic, I finally put my belief into action.
So here I am…living in sunny Los Angeles, working for one of the top five PR agencies. I can now say that “I’m living the dream.”