Five Four and a Quarter

Questions, confessions, experiences, and inspirations of a twenty-something-year-old

All The Single Ladies February 19, 2013

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A meeting that I had with my boss and coworker this morning quickly escalated from pure business into an in-depth discussion on life, love, reminiscence, and all the what-if’s and choices that a person makes as they embark down the path of their life.  My coworker–we’ll call her Emily– who’s also twenty-four, is a lot like me. Driven, independent, hard-working, energetic—Oh, and single. We’re both very content with our single lives. I’m assuming that she also is single by choice and, like me, doesn’t feel an urge or desire to have a significant other at this point in time. Nonetheless, it’s inevitable for small feelings of doubt to creep in, especially as we both take passive roles in watching people around us move into their future lives with a “soul mate.” This spring, I’ll be going to my third wedding of my high school girlfriends. Last week, Emily watched two of her friends get engaged. Emily and I agreed on the better-them-than-me aspect of our situations, but it’s still hard not to think about, “When will this be me?” “Will it ever be me?” “Am I missing out on opportunities because I’m not actively dating right now?”

My boss –let’s name her Erica– quickly set our unspoken concerns aside when she shared her own experience of being a twenty-something with us. She told us how fortunate she is that the man she married when she was only a few years older than Emily and me is the one; how hard it would be to run the Marking Services department at a 1 billion dollar company and manage a family at the same time if she had settled for the wrong person; and how it’s so much better to stay single, forever, if necessary, than to form your entire future with someone with whom you aren’t 100% compatible. To be honest, it feels a little out of my comfort zone to be writing about all this marriage stuff. I’ve never thought about having a wedding or whom I hope to end up with. But in terms of the here and now and the uncertainty that I do feel in terms of whether or not I should be actively looking for that “special someone,” I now feel content with my choice to live life in the moment and not think about the future.

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Erica met her husband in a very When Harry Met Sally way. They grew up in the same town on the North Shore of Boston, but a few years apart and in different neighborhoods, never meeting each other. After college, Erica was in a serious relationship and assumed she would marry her boyfriend, although she felt like there was something missing. Following her heart, she ended the relationship and met her husband-to-be merely months later, at which point they made the connection that they should have met long ago. –Her boyfriend ended up fleeing to the west coast and working at a “small startup called Google,” so I’m assuming he forgave her for breaking his heart.–

As we spent the next fifteen minutes internet stalking Erica’s ex boyfriends from when she was in her late teens and early twenties and restating the cliché “That’s what your twenties are for,” Emily kept saying that this reassurance that it’s OK for us to be single was exactly what she needed to hear after watching two friends get engaged. For me, I’ve never given the thought much analysis beyond the point that if I’m going to be single at any time in my life, now is the time, rather than down the road. This conversation did, however, support everything I’ve ever told myself when I’ve doubted my relationship status –or lack of it:– it’s OK to be single. My friends and my job are my life right now and I’m happy. Things tend to work themselves out. Everything happens for a reason.

I’m assuming that at some point fairly soon my view on being single will change and I’ll be eager to move on with my future, but for now, life is pretty damn good.

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A Different Kind of Love December 5, 2012

 

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I think I’ve been too in love my friends.

 

Looking at my previous posts confirms this fact. Topics about my friends are extremely prominent. I started out, fresh out of college, worried that our friendship wouldn’t last. I cast this anxiety to the side last spring when we had proven that we would all put in the time and energy to get together. Then people followed me and moved to Boston. Life was amazing. This past summer was the best one I’ve ever had. I was constantly surrounded by my friends and there was nowhere else I wanted to be.  It even got to the point where I was selfish. I turned down opportunities to hang out with anyone besides my close-knit group. If I had wanted to, I could have grown my relationships with a lot of coworkers. But I didn’t want this. I wanted my friends. My college friends, who were starting to feel more and more like the family that I had chosen for myself. I was, in a sense, in love.

It’s  been a long time since I’ve been in love, which may be the reason why I forgot an important underlying fact. With love, there is great risk. With love, there is the potential of heartbreak. With love, a tiny, minor disappointment really hits you hard. The small jolt that I recently experienced in our friendship felt like getting rear ended but telling people you were in a head-on collision. No, nothing bad happened. I just feel let down. I honestly don’t even know why. As I said, it was a minor disappointment. So small, in fact, that I can’t even decipher what exactly lit is. I just know that it’s here and I can’t stop thinking about it, like having an elephant in the room.

I don’t make New Year resolutions. I’ve never felt that I needed to. Maybe this should change. Maybe, in 26 days, I should make a resolution to spread myself more horizontally across different people, rather than put my whole heart and soul into one box. It’s risky to believe in something with all of your heart. If you have any doubts, any at all, is it worth the risk? Do i let fate take its course, ride out the storm and see what happens? Or do I make a definitive decision?

I’m hoping that in a few days I delete this post because it was such a ridiculous thing to write. I want to laugh about it and find it amusing that I was so distressed by nothing. But right now, my faith is fading fast. Maybe it’s just time, for better or for worse. Time to make lives separate from one another. A lot of my friends just got new jobs, myself included. Could this be a sign that it’s time to move on, to grow up, to put our energy into bigger and more important things?

There are so many questions, so many maybes. But I guess that’s just the nature of life. No one really knows.

 

24 October 1, 2012

I just celebrated my 24th birthday. I wasn’t very excited for my 22nd or 23rd birthdays –after you’re 21, birthdays aren’t as thrilling,– but 24 proved to be the best one I’ve had in a few years.  I don’t really make birthday or new year’s resolutions. I do, however, have some big takeaways from the last four years.  With inspiration from Thought Catalog, I figured, what better time than my birthday to take a step back and look at all the things I’ve learned thus far in my twenties?

  1. The friends that you make your freshman year of college may not be the ones standing by you for graduation pictures
  2. Don’t take it for granted if your parents help out with your rent during college
  3. You will have a bad experience with certain liquors that result in you never being able to drink them again
  4. Your 21st birthday will be one of the best nights of your life that you don’t remember
  5. It might be important to you to launch your career as soon as possible. It might not. Maybe you want to travel, or work a dead-end job and have fun. There is no right answer. Follow your heart
  6. Your friends are 10 times more important than being in a relationship. Always remember: bros before hoes, chicks before dicks
  7. Keep a keen fashion sense from your childhood and even from your parents’ childhood. The popular fashion of several decades ago will come back into style. Except for cargo pants. Those are never coming back
  8. Social media is an amazing creation. It has made the world 3 dimensional. It requires people to share their lives with complete strangers. A lot of the time, it isn’t clear exactly what a large impact social media plays in your life. Love it. Embrace it. It isn’t going away anytime soon
  9. Sleep is overrated
  10. You aren’t still in college and you will get hangovers. Your body just can’t handle the binge drinking like it used to
  11. Freezing cold, frigid, snot-freeze-to-your-face weather sucks. It doesn’t mean you have to move to Florida. It just means it will be that much better when winter ends and spring arrives
  12. Spring break doesn’t have to be like it’s depicted in movies. You can have just as much fun relaxing with a few friends or going on a cruise with your grandmother
  13. Graduating from college doesn’t mean that the best years of your life are over. So far, my mid 20’s have been pretty awesome
  14. Change is scary and often unwanted. However, it can also be exciting. Try to embrace change and focus on the positives
  15. Carpe diem
 

The Meaning of a True Friendship October 14, 2011

It was early January of 2008 the first time I met Kathleen. Her favorite time of year –snowboard season– and my least favorite –so cold and windy!– We were paired up in Marketing 110 for a class project that involved promoting the Battle For Burlington, an annual ski and snowboard competition between Burlington’s three colleges Saint Mikes, UVM, and Champlain. Although I saw Kathleen in class twice  week, it took some time before we really got to know each other. Our first –of what became many– real bonding experiences occurred at the end of March, the day the Battle For Burlington took place. We trekked to Jay Peak to help promote the event on the mountain. What could have easily been a beautiful spring skiing day turned out to be 25 degrees, so we bundled up and froze as we stood outside the base lodge, telling mountain skiers and riders where to go to watch the event.

While Kathleen had been smart and brought her snowboard, I had left my skis in Burlington, thinking I would be working the event all day and wouldn’t have time to use them. Because of this, I hiked up the mountain to where the event was taking place rather than taking a chair lift, and after the event was over, I had no choice but to hike back down. Or so I thought, until Kathleen suggested that the two of us sit on her snowboard and ride it sled-style to the base of the mountain. As we took off down the mountain, we quickly gained speed; too much speed. Part way into our ride, we bailed off the snowboard, tumbling and rolling a good distance before coming to a stop, hearts racing.

As I said, this was my first epic memory with Kathleen. Since this day, we went on to be roommates my sophomore year of college and randomly ended up getting apartments in the same building the following two years. We’ve shared birthday gatherings, holiday parties, Halloween extravaganzas, heartbreaks, laughs, and way too many pieces of sushi and bottles of wine to count. We hit it off as  friends and there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll stay in touch forever. Kathleen even loves Disney almost as much as I do!

People enter your life every day. Whether they become a part of your life and leave an impact is up to you.

We recently experienced our first truly horrible memory together.

At the end of August, Kathleen’s mom, Jane, passed away from cancer. I’ve come to know Jane –and Kathleen’s whole family– over the last few years. Jane was the most active and healthy woman I’ve ever met. She ran more than I do. She worked as a trainer at a gym. She lived a healthy lifestyle and had a healthy mind. She was always a present and supportive mom, similar to my own. Not only was she Kathleen’s mom, but she was also her best friend. Read Kathleen’s beautiful post about her mom’s passing on her blog, Wamser and the World.

How do you support a friend who goes through the pain of losing a parent? It’s not like I can relate to this tragedy. Fortunately for me, I haven’t even had to go through the loss of a grandparent yet. Do I tell her I’m sorry, words that at this point probably sound empty to Kathleen, after she’s heard them from so many people? Do I go on with our friendship like nothing has changed? Knowing that Kathleen is the type of person who shares her feelings, ignoring the situation doesn’t seem like the best answer. But where is the line? When is it OK to talk about her mom and when will it only stir up sad feelings?

It’s pointless to ask Kathleen “Are you OK?” Of course she’s not. she’ll say she is, just like anyone would, but the truth is that life is not the same anymore without her mom and it will never be again. However, you have to go on. You don’t have a choice. Kathleen knows this more than anyone right now and even mentions in her post that “if there was one thing she made sure I knew it was that there was more life to live and I had to get up and do whatever would make me happy.”

Jane’s memorial services took place the days following my move to Boston at the beginning of September. Because of this, I was unable to attend and provide Kathleen and her family with the support that I would have liked to. On Kathleen’s recent visit to Boston, I told her that as much as I wish I could have been a part of her mom’s passing, I’m so happy that all my memories of Jane are so positive. The last few times I saw Jane this past spring we were having a fun night out in Burlington, celebrating our graduation and preparing for Kathleen’s summer departure for Europe. This is how I will always remember her; not from somber funeral events.

As hard as life will be for Kathleen without her mom, I know she’ll keep living life to the fullest, just as she has always. This is one of the reasons Kathleen and I get along so well. We’re both go-getters that constantly surround ourselves with  friends and things to do.

The future is unpredictable, but what I can confidently is that I will continue to be there for Kathleen no matter what obstacles there are to overcome, just as I know she will be there for me.

“Life is not fair. Occasionally the bad guy wins, people do play favorites, some good people die young, some people will let you down and not everyone is honest. While we can accept this, it shouldn’t stop us from dreaming big, working hard and doing what is right.” -Corey Wells

 

The Life I Could Have Lived September 14, 2011

Two weeks ago, I packed the majority of my worldly possessions into a 26-foot U-Haul truck and hit the pavement to Boston. This was the first time in my life that I moved out of Vermont, the place where I’ve always called home. I could write a cliché post about this time of change, taking a leap of faith, or how I’m starting a new chapter in my life –which is great so far, by the way.– However, I’m not going to. Instead, I will discuss a topic that hasn’t been able to escape from my mind for the last two weeks. It happened the night before I moved…

After finally completing my packing, I used the last few hours I had left in Vermont to meet up with a few of my best friends from high school. Although I had been extremely close with these girls for most of my life, we had started to drift our separate ways over the past few years. I was away at school, they were taking classes at colleges close to home. They were content and comfortable with the area that they knew so well, I wanted nothing to do with the town in which I grew up. Now, they are building houses, getting married, having babies, and falling into what is, to me, the “trap” of a small town.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see my old friends. That’s the definition of a true friendship, after all: when people can go months –or years– without exchanging a single word, but they’re able to meet up and have everything fall right back into place. That’s how it was for us. We shared stories and I was caught up on everyone’s lives. I held my friend’s baby for the first time, I heard about two of my friends’ engagement accounts, and we all became very excited as we discussed my friend’s upcoming wedding. We didn’t talk about weekend plans or job hunts or hopes and dreams for the future like I would typically discuss with my friends from college. We didn’t even really touch on the subject of me moving, besides a few murmurs of “Wow, that’s awesome” and “Good for you.”

Fork in the road

All in all, when people want different things it’s hard to relate to one another. My old friends and I have 18 years of memories to keep us together, but our futures are beginning to veer off into completely different directions. A few years ago, I guess after we graduated from high school, we all came to the same fork in the road. I just happened to take a right, while others turned left. I love these girls and I’m so glad that they’re happy with where their lives are going. But deep down, all I can think is Thank.God.That’s.Not.Me.

 

Job vs. Location: Did I Make the Right Choice? August 12, 2011

 

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“Do I move somewhere I really want to live or do I move to where a job takes me?”

This is a question that many college grads face as they attempt to plan their future. I was one of them. Ever since I began thinking about my life after college I told myself that I wanted to move out of Burlington. Yes, I love Church Street Marketplace and living a stone’s throw away from Lake Champlain. I have amazing friends –in fact, too many, since I never have time to hang out with everyone.– Nonetheless, I held a strong belief that graduating from college gave me the perfect opportunity to move and try somewhere new. After all, Burlington isn’t going anywhere and I can always come back.

My discussion with 2010 college grad Corey opened up my eyes to a different perspective on the issue of Job vs. Location. She too had big plans to move out of her college town. Then she was offered a job in Burlington and accepted it with open arms. Corey explained to me that the experience she would receive if she took this job was a much better opportunity than she could possibly get anywhere else. “What’s two more years?” she asked me. “I don’t want to stay in Burlington forever. But the experience I’m gaining right now will be invaluable for whatever my path is in the future.”

After this conversation, I began to look at my future in a new light. I came to the conclusion that the one thing that will keep me in Burlington is if I get a job offer that I can’t turn down. Still, at the same time, I was worried that unlike Corey, I would feel trapped if I stuck around. I wouldn’t be happy, or even content, with the great experience that I was gaining, Rather, I would dislike my life and be angry that I hadn’t gotten out when I had the chance.

Although I didn’t have any actual job offers in Burlington throughout the last few months, I did have numerous possibilities that could have been pursued. Shortly after my internship at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters came to an end, a job opened up that I could have applied for. I didn’t. A few members at the country club asked me if I had applied for a position at the company that they own, displaying the feeling that they would easily hire me if I had. I hadn’t. Once, I was talking with a stranger while I was bartending. The conversation ended with me being offered a job in SEO and social media –which would be ideal– if I wanted to stick around Burlington. –I had already signed a lease in Boston, so this was out of the question, but I still technically turned down a great job offer.–

Clearly, I made the decision that location is more important than a good job. Was this the right choice? Yes, I’m ready to get out of Burlington and out of Vermont. But should I have sucked it up for a few more years like Corey decided to do? A part of me wonders if rushing out of the one place where I have the most connections is stupid. At the same time, I’m trusting my instinct and I’m very excited to be moving. With the economy in shambles and people’s fight for jobs so strong, it’s a little bit crazy that I turned down so many good opportunities. Still, my decision to move just feels right.

 

A little insight from recent grads March 2, 2011

I’m taking a Writing For Online Journalism class right now. The semester is split into two halves and with the end of the first segment, my group’s blog of our stories is complete! Back in January, when the semester started, we chose the overall topic of “Burlington businesses that have survived the recession.” We spent the next six weeks contacting potential interviewees, conducting interviews, and writing stories to be posted to the blog. Without planning to, I ended up interviewing multiple recent college graduates who now hold successful jobs. I asked them questions about their jobs, the journey they took to be successful in bad economic times, and what advice they had for people like me who are getting ready to graduate.  Although I was initially conducting these interviews for the prime purpose of completing my class assignments, I ended up being extremely inspired by the success stories of theses recent grads, who, only a year ago, were in the same position that I am now. The conversations I had with these young businesspeople allowed me to view graduating in a new light. My previous feelings of excitement-yet-dreading-the-inevitable-job-search were replaced with feelings of optimism and hope that things will work out. As discussed in my  commentary The Power of a Revelation, the three interviews that I conducted proved to me that if you get as much out of college as you can –which I have accomplished through multiple internships, incredible class projects, and networking with the right people– and you pursue your goals with high energy and a positive attitude –which I always do naturally anyway– then you will be successful upon graduation.

For my first story I interviewed Ryan Fitzpatrick, the operations manager at 156 Bistro, a restaurant in downtown Burlington, and Corey Grenier, an account manager at Brandthropology, a marketing firm in Burlington. The biggest lesson I learned from Ryan was that effectively using social media can get you far in life. Prior to beginning his career at 156 Bistro Ryan frequently tweeted about his passion for the restaurant, and the owner ended up offering him a job that wasn’t even being advertised. When talking with Corey, I was very interested in what she had to say because it hit close to home. I feel like I’m in the exact same situation that Corey was in prior to her graduation. She wasn’t planning to stay in Burlington. She wanted to move somewhere new –California– and experience a different life. And she felt that she could always rely on waitressing while she was searching for a marketing job. This all changed when Corey was given a job offer by Brandthropology. Corey put all of her moving plans to the side and took the job, knowing that it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. “So what if I stay in Burlington,” Corey shared with me. “What’s another two years, or however long I’m here? I can always go to California later.” This really made me think, and I ended up agreeing with Corey. Who cares that I’m ready to get out of Burlington? It’s a great place to live with lots to do, and I absolutely LOVE summers up here. That’s when I decided that although I’m not actively looking for jobs around Burlington, I will, without a doubt, stay here if a public relations or marketing job presents itself.  Burlington really is a great city, and as I’ve already sorted out, I’m over the phase of vetoing winter.

Austin DeLonge

Austin DeLonge

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Corey Grenier

Corey Grenier

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For another journalism story, I interviewed Austin DeLonge, who graduated from UVM in 2010. With some friends, Austin started the business Blirp It. Austin explained to me that being able to talk about his entrepreneurial skills with potential employers was a great asset that set him apart from other job seekers. Similarly, I feel that I have equipped myself with skills to distinguish me from the competition. Through class projects at Champlain, I’ve been involved in all different aspects of marketing and PR, from designing complete media kits to creating year-long PR campaigns to formulating crisis communication plans to revamping companies’ internet marketing plans and social media strategies to building creative briefs to strengthening companies’ SEO to measuring business’s web analytics and creating actionable results. Not to mention everything I’ve accomplished at my two PR internships. This list is just off the top of my head too, so I’m probably forgetting several things. I think I have a solid realm of experience, do you agree?

As I continue applying for jobs with my new positive attitude that I’ve developed surrounding this process, I will keep the insights I’ve learned from Ryan, Corey, and Austin at the front of my mind; stay positive because something will work out, make sure I’m happy with what I do, take experience over my ideal world because experience is invaluable, and be proud of everything I’ve already accomplished.

 

 
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