How can I care about personal goals?

It’s the Friday of Labor Day weekend, and I am writing an overdue blog post.

Overdue because my goal is to write at least one post a week, but lately, my timing has been awful.

For some reason I am unable to keep my own personal goals to the same standards as my professional ones. From a strategic standpoint I know this post isn’t going to get many “hits.” The timing is almost a horrible as if I was publishing this on Christmas. But you know what, if I don’t write this now then it’ll be another week with no blog post.

I’m a control freak. Therefore, I hate flying. I love telling my boyfriend when he’s wrong. I love knowing about a news story before my mom or dad. I love, love, LOVE control. Maybe that’s why when it comes to my own personal goals and aspirations, I dilly and I dally. Instead of taking the bull by the horns and writing every day like I should be, I just THINK about writing every day. I keep the ideas inside my head and hope that they’ll still be there when I FEEL like writing them out.

I’m a planner. I’ve always had multiple planners for my various areas of life – personal, professional, and educational. Two out of the three are covered in check marks & crossed off lists, plus a neon rainbow of Post-Its. The other has cute little plans, but no actions. The other looks pristine next to the well worn & (sometimes aggressively) handled two.

Am I just now realizing that I’m a fraud? I go through the motions, make the plans, but the follow through is no where to be found…and why? Because it’s easier to say, “well I tried and the timing wasn’t right” versus ACTUALLY challenging myself and trying with my whole heart and soul and still failing, or even perhaps not be good enough?

Or, have I just not found something that’s good enough for me? Do I hold myself to such high standards that I will only pursue an avenue that I believe 100% in, so much so that it eats me alive?

This isn’t a question I can yet answer today, because it’s a long weekend and I gotta go do a whole lot of nothing versus a whole lot of something.

 

Sometimes you’ve got to give in to win

 

I must confess the truth.

Leaving Chicago has been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I tried. I really did try to make it work. I gave myself completely to the demands of the city. I worked overnights, double shifts, all for minimum wage. Tried to mold myself to fit in to the different social groups – the comic, the newsmaker, the socialite, the designer, the athlete. I couldn’t find my niche, my people. I was never good enough to be first rank, always second at best.

I have never felt lower about myself and my worth than when I lived in Chicago. I worked for some pretty talentless, rude, and idiotic people. It still amazes me how some of the people I answered to were in their positions of power.

I told myself the struggle was normal, that it would pass. But you know what? That’s bullshit. Young professionals should NOT be killing themselves over their jobs. It is not fair, nor okay, for their bosses to say that their over-the-top sacrifices are necessary for the good of the company or the good of the team. Never should a person feel so low as I have felt and be okay with that. It is NOT okay. It is NOT okay to work for a company, a boss, or a department that allows you to feel empty, alone, exhausted, frustrated, un-appreciated, under paid, and damaging your personal life.

Young professionals are NOT brats, selfish, or lazy for standing up for what is right & deserved: good mental health, a challenging yet balanced work environment, and respect from their peers & bosses.

I left Chicago because it was a do or die situation. I made excuses for my misery. Luckily for me, I was challenged by someone I love to either do or die. I chose do. And while it’s been challenging on my pocket book, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am finally standing up for what I deserve. I am finally doing what I’m passionate about, even if it means cutting my livelihood in half. It’s amazing how much more you enjoy life when you aren’t dreading about doing something uninspired for 8+ hours of your day.

If anyone ever needs to talk to someone about hating their job, hating their path, being depressed, lost, confused, alone, frustrated. I’m your girl. Even though I’m free from my big city demons, I’m still challenged each day to continue discovering who I am and what path I’m on. So, I’m not completely put together & all knowing. But, I can empathize. I can listen. I can try to help others feel that they do have options, albeit different than what they may be comfortable with at first, but worthwhile in the longterm.

And hey, maybe one day I’ll lay out all my grievances about particular individuals & employers, because wouldn’t that be juicy & funny? But for now, I’m going to keep giving in to my wants and desires and ya know, just keep on winning.

Post inspiration brought to you by the song “Sunshine” by Atmosphere:

Why I succeed at failing

I have been letting myself down a lot this past year. I’ve been making excuses for why I’m treading water. I’ve been blaming the universe for giving me difficult circumstances, that prevent me from moving forward. I then decide that the solution to get away from all this negative juju invading my headspace is to well, move. Queue positive vibes & blissful living!

Nope. Maybe it was blissful living for the first two weeks, but then the frustration with life came roaring back.

You see, ever since I graduated from college almost 4 years ago, I haven’t felt fulfilled. Or, if I did feel fulfilled it was fleeting. My dreams were cut down by reality, so I adapted. But for me, adapting isn’t good enough. I tried the whole full-time job thing. Fine at first, and then life hit me again and again with dilemmas.

Caitlin, your family needs you.

But Caitlin, you have rent to pay.

Caitlin, live each day like it’s yours and their last.

Caitlin, how are you going to excel in your career, adulthood if you keep going off to follow your heart? 

I am a rational person. I would like to think I’m smart, even. Maybe even overly cautious sometimes when it comes to taking a risk. A square.

But when it comes to a career, I fly by the seat of my pants. My heart bleeds down my sleeve as I continue to search for that soulmate,  that fulfillment. I can’t force to do the easy thing and “just find a full time job until you figure it out.” That seems so wrong for me. Soul-sucking. Uninspired.

So, in the eyes of many, I continue to succeed at failing. Failing to conform to what generations before me did because “they had to,” but really did they? Failing to be comfortable with a steady income at a job that is just a job. Failing to do something “useful” and “productive” with my $50K+ college education, therefore disappointing my parents. Failing to be normal.

I always had said growing up that I would HATE working in an office if it wasn’t work I loved doing. “I’ll never take a job just for the money.” Well, I’ve done that in the past…slightly unavoidable Younger and Unknowing Caitlin.

But now, I’ve decided to embrace my failures. Things didn’t work out for a reason, because if they had would I really be my best self? My happiest? My most fulfilled? Maybe my failures are leading me up to a road of successes that just so happen to occur later in life, because I’ll handle it better then and not become a drug addict or fame whore.

I want to keep failing. If I keep failing then I’ll keep growing. If I keep growing then I’ll become a more evolved individual. If I become a more evolved individual then I will be fulfilled.

Simple enough, right?

More Hats

20 and even 30-somethings are beginning to create their own jobs. Saying “screw you” to those refusing to hire them until “they pay their dues.”

At only 24 years old, I have worn quite a few different hats in my life so far – soccer player, student, journalist, historian, manager, advisor.

And at only 24 years old, I still have so many hat possibilities! But…what if I’m trying on too many too soon?

I’ve found quite a few “happys” along the way as I’ve tried on those different hats. How long that happy lasts varies of course. I mean come on, I am a twenty-something. My attention span is pretty short lived and I’m in constant need for instant gratification.

It’s that feeling of being content that I have yet to discover. Seriously. Not even a glimmer. I have NO idea what being content with my life feels like. I’m in a constant state of unrest, with “what if I did this” thoughts flooding my stream of consciousness on a daily basis.

I’ve thought that traveling would quell that unrest, but then reality hits: I need money to travel. I need to keep improving my skills & abilities so when I am ready to “settle down” I am employable. I need to focus on one area so I have a better chance at getting a good job. I need to think of life after my 20s.

Is it really reality that is stopping me from doing the unthinkable – not choosing a path, not choosing to invest in a career, choosing to not choose? Or, is it the old expectations of generations past?

“I don’t think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They’re both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking there’s some kind of change.” – Bob Dylan

I have incredibly supportive parents. They show their support the best by (mostly) keeping their career advice and opinions to themselves. My mom understands that a one-career life is no longer a realistic expectation of a person. Rather, multiple careers is almost the new expectation to survive not only the economy, but also to quell that unrest within ourselves.

The difference between the millennial generation and any other, is that we refuse to be miserable. We strive to find our happy. We strive to ruin expectations. We strive towards a greater understanding. Barriers are being broken. Lines are being crossed. Newness is being born every day.

So, is it possible to be content AND happy? Or, is happiness no longer a long-term plan, but rather a daily victory? Is being content unattainable until you “settle down?”

I’ve had co-workers of all ages. The ones closer to my parents age, really haven’t had to struggle as much to get their job. Obviously, things were different when they graduated from school. The ones closer to my age and up to 10 years older than I, have had to work the worst shifts, holidays, weekends, forgo personal events, etc. for YEARS before finally getting that job they deserve.

But now, 20 and even 30-somethings are beginning to create their own jobs. Saying “screw you” to those refusing to hire them until “they pay their dues.”

SO, LISTEN UP UNEMPLOYED 20-SOMETHINGS: Creation is the way to go. Create your own hat, because all the ones you’ve worn in the past, or are wearing right now, well, they’re going out of style.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

One Line a Day

After leaving my career aspirations behind to try another path, is 2015 going to continue on a path of wellness and happiness or a new round of struggles and questions?

Last Valentine’s Day, Marty got me a book titled, One Line a Day. He thought it would be perfect for me since I’m so horrible at committing to blogging every day, let alone once a month! (I’m working on it…)

The point is to write one line about your day, per day. It has five spaces on each page for you to write your one line for the next five years. It’s genius, really. So, now that it has been one year since I received this gift, I can start to look back at my lines from 2014.

2015 is already starting MUCH better than 2014, I must say. I’m in a better place emotionally, financially, mentally…but something is still missing.

I have this hole that’s slowly growing inside of myself ever since I stopped regularly frequenting those radio station halls. I go back ever so often to fill in, but it’s not the same. I still have that gnawing in the back of my head that’s telling me if I don’t step up my game soon, I will lose my chance to ever break it into the radio industry.

I could be bitter and blame money as the reason for my departure from radio, but honestly it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Still…that drive, that passion to tell stories, to tell the stories of those unheard, bypassed, ignored…it isn’t being fulfilled. I no longer spend time trying to understand why I wasn’t picked to do this or that, or why I am not being called upon to help on this or that, because it’s useless.  It doesn’t build me. It doesn’t strengthen me. It just gives me an excuse to give up and to stop trying.

You grind in your 20s, that’s what “people” say. You grind in your twenties so you can build in your thirties and you can enjoy your forties. But what if I want to grind, build and enjoy before I’m 40? Is that possible any more? Or is paying your dues now extended by 5 years since the economy went to shit and companies are raking the rewards of cheap labor from college graduates, who are desperate to make it on their own, no matter the physical, mental or emotional cost?

So, how am I going to stand out? How am I going to grind, build and enjoy? How am I going to tell those untold stories? How am I going to fill my one line a day?

Finding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is Caitlin Fry’s mantra for 2015…and it should be yours too!

2015 has started well enough for C-P-Fry.

New job, new responsibilities, more time to read, workout, lay in bed, slow down and enjoy my surroundings in the city.

2015 is the year I will become a quarter of a century old. And apparently, the new thing to do is to have a “quarter-life crisis” since I’m a millennial trying to find a career in a very career-less world and therefore need to panic about my path.

I already did this panic dance last year, in 2014. So, I think my “quarter-life crisis” is going to be spent looking at the thousands of possibilities of what could be in store for the next 25 months of my life, rather than the next 25 years.

I don’t know if it’s logical to think about where you’ll be in 5 years anymore. The economy is too exhausting to follow. Careers are no longer lifelong adventures where you rack up multiple awards and plaques for your many years of service. Rather, they are a temporary solution to the life long problem of needing to make enough money to live… but you eventually bail after 36 months because you haven’t felt fulfilled, and if you don’t stop now you’ll lose your sanity in addition to your friends.

I’ll be honest. I studied journalism and history during undergrad. Hell, I was certain radio was for me – my dream. It still might be. But it isn’t right for me right now. I haven’t given up on my writing/story telling dreams. Not at all. Something just had to give after 2 years of intense hours, long commutes, and not enough pay.

Getting in the journalism game takes a brave, strong soul. One that can handle the long nights, even longer days, and lack of relationships. I admire those who have been able to juggle their sanity with their passion for storytelling.

Since starting my new job in management, I’ve been learning about emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

If I could tell my fellow millennial one thing about how to find their “happy” on their road to self success it would be to develop and learn about your emotional intelligence. Seriously. This will make or break your sanity. It will change your outlook not only of how you operate, but it will also help you to chill the hell out when people around you are being complete morons. Because you’ll realize, what the fuck is the point of being mad or frustrated with dumbasses or dumbass situations when there is nothing you can do to change it, so what the hell, just do you.

Emotional intelligence your saving grace for 2015 everyone.

The Business Card That Just Won’t Quit!

Image

I finally took the time to have these crafted up (they look much better in person than as an iPhone photo, I promise) and hopefully I got enough of them, 250 and all. Ya never know when you’ll need to make a makeshift deck of cards at a party.

Now, to find a job with consistent hours, benefits, and makes me feel fulfilled and happy…is that realistic in 2014, or should I move past that?

Who knows, maybe these will help me find that long lost connection that I need to get the ball rolling again…never under estimate the power of a brightly colored business card! Especially one with the name Caitlin Fry on it.

How to Establish Your Adult Self in Your Hometown

As I wrote in my last post, myself and many of my colleagues are returning to their parent’s homes to figure out their post-college paths.

I’ve been home for about a week and I’m slowly getting a routine together. But it is strange to be back in my hometown after being gone for 4 years. It is strange living in my parents house without my parents there. It is strange to walk around my neighborhood and reminisce about my easygoing girlhood, where I had skinned my knee trying to skateboard, which houses I knew to avoid when cutting through backyards, how my mom made me carry around a walkie-talkie whenever I went on a bike ride with my friends.

The composition of my neighborhood is so different now. Many of our childhood friends have moved on whether it was to a new state or even heaven. I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Naperville, but for now all I know is that I’m spending my post-graduate years here QUITE differently than my formative years.

So I’ve been thinking…how can I establish myself as an adult, as a college graduate, as a professional in my hometown? How can I get the neighbors to see me as a 22-year-old rather than the 12-year-old I used to be?

  1. Refrain from wearing any clothing that you wore as a “youth” in public. It’ll confuse the neighbors into thinking you’re still in high school. Don’t even try to convince me that it is socially acceptable to wear Abercrombie and Fitch after your junior year of high school. It’s not. Plus, have you not heard about their incredibly shallow CEO? Ed Hardy will also make you look like a douche.
  2. Volunteer. Seriously, volunteering not only makes you feel great but it’s a wonderful habit to pick up and turn into a lifelong passion. If you don’t have that full-time job yet, it’ll keep you busy and could possibly turn into something that could be put on a resume or create valuable references for the future!
  3. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! Even if you don’t have much going on in your schedule, get up, get out! Go to your community library, downtown area, or coffee shop. The more out you get the less down you’ll be about being at home! Plus, you never know what will happen once you walk outside that door!
  4. Sign up for Groupon or Living Social. These sites have some wacky deals and opportunities but sometimes they’re the best places to find something new to try at a reasonable price in a place you’d never expect it to be – your hometown!
  5. Re-explore your hometown and its neighboring towns, I promise you it is NOT the same as you remember as a child.
  6. Create new habits – go on a run/walk/or take your dog for a walk before the pavement gets too hot, you’ll feel great starting your day accomplishing a little something. Say hi or smile at neighbors as you pass, or even introduce yourself to those who you either don’t remember or don’t remember you. It’ll help to establish your new identity in their minds as well as help in making connections!
  7. When you do meet someone new or even an old high school/middle school/elementary school friend, talk about your ACCOMPLISHMENTS and GOALS, not your set backs or uncertainties. Be confident in yourself and they will in return be confident and impressed by you!
  8. Accept invitations from new and old friends and neighbors. It never hurts to put yourself out there at least once to see if a new friendship can be formed or re-kindled. Plus, you never know who might know who in the business you’re trying to break into! Friends and allies are important in this stage of your life, but don’t push them if they aren’t there. Be patient and those who are true friends of great value will find their way into your life, just be open to it.
  9. Be open to change. Don’t try to re-live the past, or spend much time recollecting about the past. It’s fine to do for an hour or two with old friends, but it’s time to move forward and create new memories and opportunities!
  10. Lastly, BE YOURSELF. You are in your hometown. You should feel comfortable enough to be yourself. Before you can prove yourself to a big time employer, you need to prove to yourself that you are confident in your abilities, talents, and dreams. Don’t diminish your drive, don’t give up, let yourself have some bad days every once in a while where you cry, vent, letting all of the bad feelings out and then psych yourself up for a new day! Believe, believe, believe. It’ll get you through!

How to Be a Successful Journalist in 2013

Doesn’t everybody love “how to” lists? They not only simplify otherwise complex tasks but they also perceive the “be” part as easily attainable by one and all!

As a recent journalism school graduate, I have looked back on my experiences at the school and various media outlets and have decided that to become a successful journalist in 2013 I must have the following experiences and/or qualities:

To be a successful journalist in 2013…

  1. You must come from a well-off family. That is, your parents must be willing to financially support you as you partake in that unpaid internship in New York City or Los Angeles. Didn’t find someone to sublease your apartment in your college town? No worries, the ‘rents have ya covered. It’s not like you had time to make over $10,000 while taking classes full-time the academic year before, so how would you be able to pay for your rent, food, and living expenses without the help of good ol’ mom and dad? Internships are what get you that job after graduation after all, or at least that’s what “they” say, and what parent really wants their kid to come home after 4 years kid-free? 
  2. You must be willing to sacrifice your social life. You won’t care about why Tony and Sheila broke up because you’ll be too busy caring about why the local school board is voting against a healthier hot lunch menu. The closest friends you’ll have are your fellow reporters, but even then you can’t always trust them since moving your way up the journalism hierarchy is rare and demands some competition. Also, your fellow reporter friends will get dull after awhile because you’ll just keep talking about the same thing — work. 
  3. In college, you must be willing to sacrifice your grades if you want to get some clips in that daily paper. Breaking news happening at the court house and you’ve been assigned to cover it? Well screw class! This shits more important to your editors! You won’t even realize that your reporting is affecting your grades until after countless absences in psych causing you to land an automatic “F” in the class. You needs a strong GPA anyways, as long as you graduate that’s all that matters! 
  4. You must have a smart phone or a tablet on you at all costs. Still using a Motorola Razr to keep in touch with your (tiny) social circle? Well you’re fucked when it comes to learning about breaking news. Unless your ass is hunkered down in front of a TV 24/7, but even then you’ll still be one of the last to know, since your 13-year-old neighbor, Sally, just texted you about the mass spread of bird flu all over Europe before it even hit the airwaves. 
  5. You must have at least a bit more knowledge and recognition than the average Joe on almost every important/relevant topic related to the United States, its world affairs and celebrity gossip. If you can’t write up a 400 word story about the conflict in Iraq in 30 minutes, you’ll be stapling paper packets for the majority of your career. And, if you get shit wrong in the 400 word story about Iraq, you’ll never write about the conflict, Iraq, or any world event again. 
  6. You must be open to trying new social media and technological advances as they happen. Even if you think it is the most stupid fad that’ll die out within six months, you must utilize it like it’s the greatest thing in the world! Not on Twitter? How do you crowdsource? Not on Facebook? How do you publicize your articles out to the public? Not on Instagram? Don’t you want to use different filters to make your random story/newsy photographs more appealing to the eye? 
  7. You must be really fuckin’ nosy or at least dangerously curious. No shy person can be a successful journalist. Why? Because you have to bug the shit out of people to get them to give you the straight answer, you have to snoop through their garbage to find the documents that you want to read but they’ve already shredded, you have to go up to random people and ask them either difficult or ridiculous questions and hope they don’t pour their 7Eleven Slurpee all over head because you bothered them or offended them with your question. 
  8. You must be completely content with being underpaid, under-appreciated, and constantly judged in the most negative way possible by the general public, as well as the GOP and other angry, bitter groups. 
  9. Don’t know AP style. No worries – whip out your Kindle or e-reader to look it up or shit, they even have a Twitter account you can reference. This relates back to #4 & #6, if you don’t have an e-reader, a smart phone, or use Twitter then you gotta rely on the old school method of memorization. But, really, who does that nowadays? 
  10. You got to have the passion for informing the public about issues, events, or persons that are either beneficial to their lives and understanding or that could be harmful to their lives and their understanding. Hopefully, journalism will slow the hell down and stop trying to curve words one way or another and return to its classic watchdog format and report words in a format that allows the reader/viewer/listener to make their own observations and decisions.