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?

Why You Need to Learn to Become a Superhero at College

I have been a college graduate for seven months now and the reality of being done with my undergraduate career still wakes me up in the morning with a shift kick in the behind, waking me up to the reality that I am still on that terrifying job hunt.

I like to think that I was pretty active in college, learning to perfect the art of multitasking — going to class, going to student organization committee meetings, grabbing a quick bite from the cafe, making sure I finished my homework and left some room to study for that upcoming midterm, write a 15 page research paper the same night I said I’d cover someone’s DJ shift for three hours, etc.

While some nights I thought my head was going to explode from the pressure and my friends did their very best to boost me up with over-caffeinated cups of coffee and “study parties” (studying doesn’t sound so terrible when you add the word party at the end of it, right?), I quickly learned that if I planned on making it into the professional market, let along the media business, I needed to morph myself into a superhero – still kicking ass at 3 a.m., balancing three different modes of thought in my head at the same exact time (sometimes in English and en français), and of course, never letting my hopes of working for NPR (someday, one day) die.

Now that my undergraduate career is done, that doesn’t mean my superhero training is. It has been seven months since I have been in a college classroom, football or basketball stadium, and student organization meeting. Now I split my time and my brain’s hemispheres between: weekly train trips to Chicago, car crash fatality research, finishing a big investigative news story, teaching myself how to become a successful freelancer, and searching for more internships or possibly even jobs to add to my ever-growing résumé.

I thought I did enough in college, and while my friends and family said that I did do enough in college, in the real world sometimes that just isn’t enough to get what you want. So, fellow graduates, my words of advice for you (and myself): Do not get discouraged with yourself if you are doing your absolute best. While you are trying to break out into the big bad professional world, and you’re supposed to impress others, you should always remember to be kind to yourself. At this moment, the professional world is meaner and scarier than ever before, so give yourself time. Be open to many experiences, even if they might not be what you dreamed of doing right out of college, everything has a way of working out for the best, as long as you maintain that mentality. You’ll find your path, you’ll find your happiness, and it just may not be EXACTLY how you planned.

My advice to high school students soon to be entering college: While college is an incredibly exciting time since you will be living away from your parents for the first time, do not get caught up in the partying atmosphere of university. Of course have fun and be open to new (and safe) things. But remember that each action has a consequence — take it from a friend of mine who always dreamed of going to teach abroad and has trouble finding countries that will accept his application since he received a number of alcohol related tickets while an undergrad. I promise you, you can make friends outside of the bars, outside of a drunk or high haze, and you can find like-minded people in student organizations, volunteer groups, or work-study programs. Fill your empty time slots with activities that not only cater to your interests but also will look great on your résumé!

If you didn’t learn to become a superhero at college and spent a lot of your time either staring at the ol’ boob tube or the toilet bowl, it’s not too late to start evolving. Look for volunteer opportunities in your town that relate to your interests. Keep the fire going under you to never settle. Do not spend your time regretting what you did not do at college. Instead, spend that time searching for a similar opportunity that doesn’t require you to be at college to pursue it. And don’t wait! Many internships and collegiate student opportunities dwindle a year after you graduate.

Everyone can learn to be his or her own superhero. How badly do you want it?

Various Marvel superheros

“You must constantly ask yourself these questions…”

“You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay?”

— Jim Rohn, courtesy of Elisabeth Taverine of CHAARG

Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home.

Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home. – Bill Cosby

Well, I’ve moved back in with my parents. Kind of. My dad travels five days out of the week for work, and my mom recently got a summer condo in Lake City, Minnesota to be closer to her 90-year-old father so they’re mostly up there. While they aren’t physically around much, I’m back in their home.

I’m back in my childhood home with my pickle green walls adorned with high school mementos. To say it’s weird is an understatement. I am incredibly grateful to my parents for their continued to support and welcoming me back with open arms, a warm bed, and a fridge full of food. No, my ego isn’t bruised. No, I’m not ashamed to live at home. This is the new reality for recent college graduates, even those who were INCREDIBLY active at their school.

I am truly blessed. I have a great opportunity to intern at WGN Radio News in one of the greatest cities for memorable moments, great opportunities, and life-defining challenges — Chicago. I am still telecommuting at my old job for the next few months, which is allowing me to keep busy and continue bringing in part of my previous income.

It’ll take a few weeks to get adjusted to seeing Naperville not as “I’m going to visit my parents” but “I’m going home,” again. It won’t be my forever home, I know that. But it will be my home for now because of all the love and memories that have been experienced in it.

Don’t be ashamed to go back home. Don’t take your parents generosity for granted. Don’t sell yourself short — just because you’re 22 and living with your folks doesn’t make you a failure. Wouldn’t you rather be ready financially and emotionally to break out into the world and find your first real place than forcing it to happen, when, maybe, it really just isn’t meant to be at that moment.

So go home. Even if you do have that first big job with health benefits, dental included, go home. Home is what shaped you. Home is what supported you. Home is your family. Home is your friends. And as you build your first home, just remember the homes that built you.

The Most Uncertain Thing for Humanity is Life

This week has been pretty shitty for my emotional and mental state. There was Boston, there was Texas, there was a death of a close family friend, and there was bad news told.

Yes, there are parts of the world where worse things are happening to even better people than I, but I don’t think one can ever compare their sorrow or trials to another since it is all relative to our own personal perceptions of the world and how bad is bad.

If you read the news, and I mean really read it — not just the headlines or “nation” section, but even the “world” section — then you are reminded on a daily basis on how uncertain life is for us all. There are some people in certain parts of the world that statistic claim have less certainty than others but statistics don’t directly create reality now do they?

Horrible, terrible things shouldn’t be the reason for remembering our faith in our cranky neighbor or annoying roommate. The expression of one’s faith should be a daily practice — not imposing upon others but a method of living each day. There are good days, best days, and not-so-great days. But how one views the next day — the one in the future that is necessarily certain that they’ll see — is what determines the here and now, the present.

I have had some pretty terrible days at work where I

was constantly bullied throughout the day. I could have wallowed in the day’s negativity and which would then propel me to decide that I wouldn’t show up to work the next day, or I could feel the feelings while in the moment of sadness and then let the moment pass and decide to face the next day despite the possibility of being subjected to my bully’s comments again.

It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be angry. It’s how you express that sadness and that anger that’ll define your today and your tomorrow.

So I’ll have my moments of sad today, and possibly even tomorrow. But I won’t let those moments overshadow the growing fight that is inspired by the sadness — I’ll fight the sad moments of the day by creating moments filled with laughter and smiles, today, helping to propel me to do the same thing tomorrow, if I am so blessed with another day.

Don’t exist. Live.

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“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ― Oscar Wilde