A Decade of Travel

Florida, France, italy, mexico, Scotland, Travel

It has been ten and a half years since I took my first trip without my parents. In that decade I have learned a lot about the world, people, cultures, identities, food, wine, and maybe most importantly, myself.

Perhaps the most powerful thing about being on the road, about depending on only myself, about sleeping in strange places, about navigating subways is that you learn so very much about the person that resides inside. It is the quiet moments waiting on a subway platform or walking around a city all alone that you get to listen to the internal voice. It is disconnecting the cell phones and emails and constant bombardment of your life that you can listen to yourself.

In a decade on the road, where most adventures have been solo, I have found more pieces of me on the road than I ever would have staying put. On my own two feet I have found that I am strong, a problem solver, great at meeting people, good at budgeting, amusing and kind, great at navigating, good at picking up social queues and much more. My favorite part is finding out that I am in fact a brave and capable person, in spite of a society that tells women they’re not.

Perhaps my travel is a rebellion, as is all the other women that travel alone, to all the people that told me not to go. It’s a rebellion to the other women that told me to be scared and to stay home. It’s a rebellion to the men that warned me, or assumed my actions were reckless, or would have preferred I stayed home and did nothing. It’s a fight against the men that have tried to intimidate me, or have groped me, or have threatened me. I am saying, none of these actions, big or small, will keep me from embracing and existing in this world.

A decade of travel has emboldened me to be more outgoing and more bold to apply for promotions. A decade of travel has pushed me into scared moments of education and risk, and to walk away from crappy people and situations. Ten years of traveling has meant that I have found a voice, and a purpose, and I left my home town and I have never looked back.

While I get to own decade of travel it has only been facilitated by the support and care of family and friends that encouraged my journey. My grandma talked me through the planning and shared books and art resources for me to find. My family friends pushed me to visit them, or to make sure I went. In my college years my partner, now husband, supported my study abroad and Master’s work internationally. My mother took her own travel dreams and wove them into my own by connecting me with friends, and buying me books. My Great-Aunt and Uncle took me on my first trip without my parents. And so many more have helped me along the way, from teachers to mentors, to total strangers.

It is these hands of support and love that have encouraged me to become the confident traveler and woman I have. While I always will have more to learn about myself and the world, I know I have crafted a framework for success.

So dear reader, I deeply encourage you and the others in your life to get out there and see the world. It’s one of the most profound and moving experience that anyone can have.

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Travel Is More Than Checklists

France, Ireland, italy, musings, Scotland, Travel

In my work, and my passion, there is a lot of talk about “bucket lists”. Bucket Lists, for those unaware, are lists of things and places one wants to go to before they “kick the bucket” aka drop dead.

While it’s great to have lists and goals, dreams and wishes, it’s also important not to lose track of all the other reasons one should travel.

No doubt I have my own goals I want to accomplish, and a bucket list a mile long, yet I know in my heart of hearts I travel for much more than checking off places.

When I was 19 and I took off to Europe by myself, I kept thinking “if I die now I will feel fulfilled”. I felt this when I saw Paris. Then again in London. Again in Edinburgh. Once again in Ireland….and I have felt it so many more times in eight and a half years. Yet I have not run out of places I want to visit, things I want to experiences, beauty I want to absorb. This is because the act of traveling is much more than coming home and saying “I have been here” it’s the stories, the people, and the moments that make traveling whole.

Some of my more vivid memories have nothing to do with making it to a place I always wanted to see. While seeing the Eiffel Tower was spectacular. I remember the same wonder at a funeral procession in the Orkney Islands. Something about those moments connected me deeper to humanity that I was witnessing, and the glory that was our existence. I laughed as much at a comedy show in Dublin as I did a little girl in a park in Blarney who was trying to talk me out of my crackers as I ate a picnic. I have wept seeing the Mona Lisa and the Birth of Venus, surrounded by hundreds of people, because of the connection we all felt through time and to ourselves and those around us in awe. I have also cried sitting alone on mountain tops, flabbergasted at the insignificance of my own size and existence.

My point is that travel is an emotional experience. Travel is a humanitarian experience. I travel to be more in love with the people I share earth with. I travel to be humbled at the beauty of nature. I have traveled to get closer to family and friends. I have traveled to escape family. Traveling means pushing my comfort levels to a breaking point. Traveling means eating food I never would try otherwise (hello escargot). Travel means drinking and eating at totally bizarre places and falling in love with it. Traveling means looking other people in the face and feeling connected to them, even if they are a complete stranger.

Because checking off lists holds you to a form, and the earth is far better explored in its natural chaos.

Travel is to live your life to its highest value.

Travel, in its pure form, is magic.

Happy Travels!

Accomplishments and Goals Part 2

musings

In part one 1 I began the discussion on the importance of taking note of your accomplishments and note of your goals to compare the two. This keeps one grounded on the road through life and aware that even small things are meant to be celebrated. Small things can be profound, and even our mistakes can mean we earned something. At the end of the day, the morsels from our achievements are sustenance to carry on, to be better, to be stronger, to carry on. While the journey may be rough, the goals are worth it.

Here is my shortlist of accomplishments I have made based on my own goals.
  • I graduated High School
  • I graduated from my Undergraduate program with a double major
  • I graduated from my Master’s program
  • I moved out of my childhood home and have not gone back
  • I financially support myself and help with my family expenses
  • I am happily married with a great husband and step-child
  • I have a job moving into a real career
  • I have a roof over my head
  • I have a newer car
  • I have plenty to eat
  • I have a fantastic circle of friends that love and support me
  • I have hosted a radio show
  • I have been published in a newspaper
  • I have survived the loss of loved ones
  • I have been to Paris
  • I have been to London
  • I have been to Rome
  • I have been to Florence
  • I have been to Edinburgh
  • I have had champagne in Champagne
  • I have cried at the Isle of Skye’s beauty
  • I have cried at the rolling hills of Ireland and their beauty
  • I have recovered from illness
  • I have danced on a table
  • I have held management positions
  • I have made positive changes to companies and organizations I work for
  • I have over 130 subscribers to my blog
  • I have made friends at every stage of my life
  • I have hiked all day
  • I have traveled to 13 different countries in two continents
  • I had a beautiful wedding
  • I made my wedding dress
  • I have photographed beautiful weddings
  • I have been to a beer festival
  • I have worn crazy outfits in public
  • I have loved deeply
  • I have had my heart broken
  • I have eaten exotic food
  • I have danced at a Burn’s Night
  • I have been to countless concerts
  • I own my own business
  • I create art
  • I have sold art
  • I have tattoos
  • I have tried different piercings
  • I have made mistakes
  • I have left things that don’t serve me
  • I have abandoned abuse for instability
  • I have found peace in therapy and support
  • I have an innovative eye
  • I inspire others to see the world
  • I have started to write books
  • I have shared my stories with others
  • I have delivered a eulogy to a crowd of people
  • I have shared pitches with my bosses
  • I am learning not to fear authority
  • I am learning new skills at my job
  • I am challenging myself each new year
  • I am a Girl Scout Troop Leader
  • I make art for those I love
  • I have a growing blog
  • I can read and write
  • I have read more books than I remember
  • I have worked since I was 17
  • I have worked to pay for my travels
  • I have traveled three times by myself to Europe
  • I did a study abroad program in Italy
  • I have cried at the Mona Lisa
  • I have made countless costumes for myself and others
  • I exercise 2-4 times a week
  • I have shared a love of history with children
  • I have acted in pays
  • I have adopted a pet that was homeless
  • I have been on a cruise
  • I have been to an all-inclusive resort
  • I have taken an airplane multiple places
  • I have taken a train multiple places
  • I have taken ferries to cross oceans
  • I have taken children on daily and travel adventures
  • I have witnessed nature’s unparalleled beauty.
  • I have woken up to bagpipes playing in Scotland
  • I have had my makeup and hair done professionally
  • I have had my nails done professionally
  • I have helped build homes
  • I have laughed so hard I have cried
  • I have survived being very ill
  • I have sang and drank with friendly Germans
  • I have danced and celebrated with happy Scots
  • I have been soaking wet due to bad travel planning
  • I have carried too much luggage
  • I have had flight delays
  • I am paying off my student loans

Part 3

Share your story in the comments!

My Diploma Hangs on the Wall

musings

My diploma hangs on the wall

It’s best friend by it’s side

One has a $60,000 price tag

The other $40,000

They’re beautiful pieces of paper

Expensive as they are.

 

They have a lot of memories attached

Memories of fun and learning

Memories of personal growth

There is travel mixed in there

and summers abroad.

 

They’re beautiful pieces of paper

Representative of education and time

They’re beautiful pieces of paper

that show my passage of time.

 

I even had them framed so that I am reminded

of all the hard work I’ve done

And of which I should be delighted.

 

Yet they hang there on the wall while I struggle to pay my bills.

 

They hang there on the wall while I try to keep my head up.

 

They hang there on the wall while I can’t pay my debt.

 

They hang there on the wall while I wait for my ship to come in.

 

The Cult of Bootstraps

musings

I am a strong believer in personal work and development. I am living proof that determination can actually attain goals and do things. I’ve been able to achieve a lot in 25 years of living, and 26 brings more goals. Yet, there is also a wall that exists that many of us hit and only a few can crawl over. I’m banging my head on that wall right now.

The reality is that outside factors play largely into whether or not someone will succeed in the way they want. These outside factors come in many forms. They’re income-based, education based, socio-economic based. Sometimes it comes down to sexism or racism. And even though we all want to believe that we have to tap into some type of well-spring that will fix our lives the reality is out of our control.

One applies for jobs they really want, one is maybe perfectly qualified and ready for the commitment. Your write a stellar resume and provide great references and update your website and you pray for the job. Yet 70 people apply 50 are just as qualified as you but 5 are more qualified and have more experience. Guess who gets the interview? Guess who stands out. Probably not you.

It raises the point that for every job in a certain field there are possibly hundreds trying to break into the field. Add onto it a later retirement for most people, which isn’t opening up jobs like it once did, and less jobs to go around in many industries and one is stuck in a bubble of underemployment.

For people in the millennial generation our wages are low and our potential to move ahead is harder. We buy homes less, because we can’t afford them. We’re loaded down with student debt, buying into the idea that our education was worth it. We don’t have benefits with many jobs we have, and we are having a harder time breaking into the fields we went to school for. If we ever get there. Many of us are still slinging pizza and selling clothes at Kohl’s to try and make it.

Many of us that went to school for a try at the middle class are facing an existence that has had wages stagnate for our lives and that of our boomer and gen-x parents. Add on the great recession which knocked a lot of people out of careers and into a downward spiral and we have a hot mess.

While I admire the idea of creating happiness and creating wealth in little things it’s also important to understand the crunch that basic survival takes on those living it. So much of one’s energy is placed in how to pay all the bills and come out with enough to buy food. A lot of energy is placed on figuring out summer camps and how to afford it and stressing about credit scores and if one can ever get ahead.

The increments are tough too, we might get a new job and make more, but then we lose our medicaid or other benefits such as income-based rent. So one has to earn significantly more to make a difference permanently in their lives. If you live somewhere like Fort Collins it’s even harder to pull ahead as the cost of living and cost of rent is harder to afford. 

The reality is that every single person living in the lower class or lower middle class, is literally pulling themselves up every single day by their bootstraps, just to get out of bed. The reality is that it is often so hard to want to even be alive. I believe this feeds into the drug epidemic and why so many people rely on medications of various kinds.

Much of this is compounded by a lack of well-paying and benefit-heavy jobs. Which I also understand. When a business is trying to employ people but it lacks significant profit it’s hard to pay raises and insurance and taxes and vacation and everything else. Sometimes companies can’t even fathom employing people full time, or only employ a few people full time for these reasons.

So what do we do? As the gap between rich and poor grows so wide.

A few ideas that would help would be single-payer healthcare for everyone, education for everyone, improved high school education that is heavy on teaching valuable skills, more corporate taxation and oversight, and more programs to even the playing field. Of course this comes down to taxation and taxing either everyone equally, say 20%, or a higher tax rate for those that earn more.

Historically, the United States had it’s largest economic boom in the post WWII years as a result of higher taxation and more education with the G.I. Bill. We also held onto manufacturing jobs and “built” the United States and much of the world. While globalization has changed much of where we manufacture, we also have opportunities to create more equality and affluence. Perhaps those that worked on the oil rigs could be recruited to work with renewable energy sources?

Much of this starts as early as high school and is a goal of lifetime improvements and learning. It also has to be backed by money going to actually helping teachers and educators and not for-profit systems. We also could take a look at higher education and why the hell it has skyrocketed (administration costs) at such a horrifying rate.

While I respect the idea of self-improvement and fighting for what you want, there is also a lot to be said for the people that can’t afford to meet their basic needs. It’s expensive to survive and to have kids and when a family can barely pay their bills month to month, it’s hard to see where the next spa day and yoga retreat are coming to calm the mind.

There are little things every day that improve one’s mindset when facing hard odds, but at the end of the day we must ask if this is the continued existence we want and want for our children, or are we going to fight to make sure everyone has more opportunities?

Watch these for more information:

The Confusing 20s

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Hi, I’ll be 26 in a few weeks and I’m in the phase that I’ll call “The Confusing 20s”.

I always thought I wanted to do a certain thing….or certain things. I always wanted to do something creative, I do creative things every week. I write and cross-stitch, sometimes I knit and paint. I put together crafts. I play with a lot of hobbies and artistic endeavors. For myself it is a chance to make something happy in a time of chaos or stress. Really it’s peace in that which is the constant reality of the chaos of life.

I never thought I could make a career from “art” so I chose something practical. Something I also enjoyed. I consider myself intelligent and able, I learn quickly and I like challenges. I want to be a lifelong learner. So I chose to go with journalism and programs that meant that I learned a huge variety of skills. This meant a B.A. where I also majored in History, just for fun, and graduated with a 3.2 GPA, not perfect, but I was proud.

I then took on a M.A. program with a school and program that had a 90% employment rate 1 year after graduation. There I would learn from internationally recognized journalists on how to be a better journalist. It was what I wanted in a very exciting and passionate field that I really love. Once again I didn’t graduate with honors, but I finished on time, and got really good marks on my work. Which, 2015 was a hard year due to losing my grandmother, but I did it, I pushed through.

The reason why I went for the M.A. was so that I could be a better journalist and walk into a role somewhere as prepared and enthusiastic as possible to do a job I was passionate about. Within a few days of finishing the work on my M.A. I was applying for jobs. That was December 2015, and here I am in January 2017 and I have yet to land the dream job. Or really, any job that is full time, has benefits and offers me some financial stability.

This has been a growth process for me. A scary and hard growth process. It has meant I have really had to grow up this last year and not just in jobs but in what my habits and actions have been. While working and jumping around with part time jobs here and there, I have had to cut back on my spending, refinance my debt and even skip paying bills so that we had groceries. Student loans and being behind on them has meant bombing my credit score and that I probably won’t be able to buy  a home any time soon or if ever. It’s really stressful and upsetting.

See my expectation was that I would get through college and get a great job. I always TRULY believed this would happen and I have never had trouble finding a job to get me through what I need to get through. That’s from High School to age 25, I always had a job and something to do. Sometimes it was to save and travel, other times it was just to have extra income. I’ve worked hard to have that.

Here we are 20 days into a new year, a new chance, and more is moving. I’ve had interviews and interest in me as an employee and things are going well with the part time job I currently have. I have backups to my backups, but it’s still hard. I never thought I would be making so little when I have so much education, when I took the “safe” bet on my education. The jobs I am finding and interviewing at also have no direct relation to my education, some overlap, but nothing direct. Which I find confusing and frustrating.

I feel like I have done everything “right” in this attempt to build myself up from a childhood in poverty, but I am finding that the road out of the hole is really slick, really steep and full of holes and drop-offs. All around it’s confusing and frustrating and extremely tiring.

I often ask myself “what am I meant to be doing?” and my gut tells me that I’m doing what’s right and what I’m supposed to. I want to “do more” but I also have to eat and pay bills and find a way to survive. While my fiancé has helped us keep the boat afloat, he supported my school endeavors so that I could do more.

Maybe this is all part of the longer journey in which I better understand poverty, achievement and the financial plight of my peers that are college educated and working poor-paying retail jobs. Sometimes it’s the location of where we are living, but other times it’s the reality that there is not a job or that one is overlooked. I have been told that maybe I’m overqualified and that maybe people see me as too expensive. Which is possible and maybe I’m not presenting myself as strongly in my cover letters. Maybe it’s a lesson in how to assert myself and demand recognition and try new techniques.

I think the biggest lesson is that it’s easy to believe the narrative we’re told in school of “graduate, college, graduate, good job.” “Keep your grades up, work hard and you’ll be great” “try your best and things will come through”. All of these narratives are great for encouragements and great for driving people to carry on, myself included. However, they are not the only truth and they ignore the complexities of what is actually existing on this planet.

For instance, how can you say this to a child that’s starving in Yemen? They might be trying their hardest but it doesn’t change the reality that civil war and too little water for crops. Just something to chew on.

While I bite my nails every time I see a less-qualified peer get a job I wanted and sometimes shed a few tears, I am fighting very hard for the right fit and the right job and my instincts tell me something will come along.

I’ve been down a lot over the last few years.

Let’s make it the last decade or so.

Things have been crazy, things have been hard, things have made me cry and scream and fight.

Blood, sweat and tears means way more to me now than ever before.

Because everything I have done has had some serious pieces of me poured into it. Bled into it.

I don’t take my work lightly, I put as much effort into it as I can. It’s not always perfect, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care or that I didn’t try. Sometimes this doesn’t translate into an end product that everyone likes. Sometimes, people don’t give a shit.

When this is the case, we often feel down, malcontent, anxious and even miserable. Yet if I have learned from anything, the down, turns back up. The down is also a chance to turn things around and make something of significance to your own life!

Take the pain and frustration of a failure, or heartbreak or being frightened to tears, to find something about yourself.

Maybe it’s a chance to learn something new to make the “failure” better in the future. Perhaps it’s not even changing your work, but demanding respect and care from who you work for. Maybe it’s even realizing “bad” work atmospheres as they become visible and learning to get out when you can. Sometimes it’s learning how to make trustworthy friends and that you’re worth more than people treat you like.

Or maybe it’s time to learn a new language or a skill so you can market yourself, maybe just brush up on a set area. Learn a craft for your free time. Read a book you’ve not had time for.

The upside to falling down is that it can also shock your mind into realizing problems around you. When I was forced to resign from a second job in six months, I realized so clearly what I had felt in my gut. They were going with a company to do marketing and they were downsizing everywhere! It wasn’t me, it was the company making serious changes.Of which, I had ignored for weeks while I saw co-workers leave or conveniently retire. I ignored overheard phone calls, and being ghosted by my boss. Now I KNOW what to look for….and I know it wasn’t personal when several other people were also thrown under the bus.

I also have a much better understanding that just because somewhere looks like a good place to be on the outside, doesn’t mean it’s actually a candy center….often it’s toxic sludge.

So I urge you, if you are down, deep down, deep in the trenches….fight…fight for yourself and the ability to be better. Fight your way out and up and onward and I leave you with this song as a measure of hope.

Best,

Rebecca

 

The Upside of Down

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Did you know Dementors in Harry Potter are symbols for J.K. Rowling’s own struggle with depression? for me, they are the only analogy that makes sense to someone that has spent at least 15 years fighting those same monsters.

They come and go, sometimes I have the strength to fight, sometimes they overpower me. Sometimes I forget that they exist.

I have struggled with depression since I was about 12. That’s 13 years now…meaning I’ve been “depressed” longer than I’ve not been.

Yet, that’s only when I remember it getting bad enough that I thought my death might be a good option. Which is crummy that a 12 y/o would ever feel that way. Yet, at 12, even though you aren’t given the credit, we know more and feel more than the adults around us understand.

I would say my real depression started at age 9 or 10. 4th grade. When conflicts with members of my family hit a breaking point. And all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and listen to audio books. Compound this with constant and debilitating stomach aches. Splash on anxiety and I was starting to struggle with all the things a normal older child should be able to deal with.

Sadly, I didn’t always have a support system that could help me or reach me when I had attacks. Often, members of my own family could be Dementors.

This isn’t about the list of things that have made it hard to change my internal dialogue, but a list of things on how to fight the darkness that creeps steadily and sneakily into your chest when you’re busy trying to survive.

Yet, either I can fall down with the monster, into a dark hole. OR

OR I can fight it.

Because I have come too damn far to not.

It’s like getting to the final battle of Hogwarts and not showing up, you know you need to be there, but you forget to set your alarm…..

It’s easy to forget the alarm, but it’s a lot harder to make up for lost time on an already short existence on this blue marble.

Here are my tips on fighting off the Dementors…

  • Find little things
    • I love stupid animal videos and many hours have been spent laughing at dogs fall down stairs and cats run into walls. But who cares if it’s nonsense or silly, I can laugh. I can laugh and laugh and laugh and sometimes that is just the best feeling…remembering what it’s like to laugh.

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  • Remember what helps
    • make a list, or just think a few moments on what helps you feel better. Is it a hug from your partner or sister? How about chocolate chip cookies? Avoid co-dependence but try the little things to help. Remember if a poem helps you feel grounded, or a favorite book helps you feel alive.
  • Love
    • sometimes we can’t love ourselves, but we can love something else. When we share love, we can receive love and I believe if you love more and more, then you can’t stop loving everyone, especially yourself.
  • Be Healthy
    • many times, when I feel at my worst, it’s because I have been eating out too much, or not eating enough healthy things my body needs. This is a good chance to eat some salad, be mindful of foods you crave and maybe take a walk or a hike.

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  • Keep it simple
    • it’s easy, as a culture, to bury ourselves in To-Do lists. however, sometimes the list is a ridiculous set of standards that causes more harm then good. When you feel low, don’t worry about all the dishes or laundry, just enjoy little things. Embrace the crazy and be. DO WHAT YOU NEED TO FEEL BETTER.
    • The world will not end if you don’t clean the toilet TODAY
  • Do something for confidence
    • if you feel off inside, you’ll feel off outside. Not that anything may be wrong, but one may just need a boost. Maybe it’s a new haircut, or getting your nails done. Try a new perfume, or pull out those heels you never wear. Perhaps you just need a new toilet paper, but sometimes, the little things make a big difference.
  • Make a change
    • Change can be terrifying, but also liberating. Move some furniture around, paint a wall, sew something. Throw out old clothes, buy some new clothes, try a new blanket etc. New hobbies and other things can help a lot.
  • Reach out
    • talk to the people you trust and love to see how they are doing, Go get food or a drink. Be together, be friends, be loving
  • Meditate
    • This helps myself, and millions of others, find some sense in the storm that is their mind. In the internet age you can find thousands of videos, instructions and ideas to help with meditation. No need for it to be intimidating
  • Self-Care
    • Most importantly, practice self-care. Be loving, be kind and be patient. This life is hard and disappointing and no one makes it out alive….so sometimes we have to step back and care. Talk to people to get through the time, therapists and doctors may have some ideas to get you back on your feet.

Best,

Rebecce

musings

I was always an emotional child. Meaning the simplest things could put me in tears. A dead rabbit on the side of the road. Getting in trouble at school. Getting in trouble at home. Having someone raise their voice at me. Having someone tell me saying something wasn’t appropriate.

I was also anxious and always nervous about doing things wrong. Even as an adult if I get a less than above satisfactory grade or feedback I dwell on it for days if not weeks.

THIS is not a healthy way to deal with the bumps and miscomings of life. Even though I hold myself to an insane standard, that doesn’t mean that I should or that it’s right or even logical.

It’s really unhealthy.

Like screws up your body and makes you exhausted and miserable half the time.

You live in dread and fear and it’s hard to feel like you can be yourself without being criticized, shot down or unloveable.

Granted I also have Post Traumatic Stress from a few childhood incidents, which doesn’t help anything. However, I know my anxious tendencies are not uncommon for my generation and my colleagues.

The problem lies so much in how our culture influences our understanding of how the world works and our place in it. I remember always hearing the narrative that if I worked hard and got good grades and looked perfect and determined, along with praying to god for help, that everything would be okay. My parents raised me in various protestant churches in Teller County Colorado and finally settled at the Methodist Church in Woodland Park when I was in high school. However, with this doctrine of do good and you’ll get your wishes granted. Pray hard enough and it will work out. I found myself feeling like this praying to something wasn’t working for me. Not to belittle anyone’s beliefs, but my self found it hard to want to pray to something I didn’t know if it existed or not and then have it grant my wishes. I didn’t find the comfort there that others did. I did my research on other religions and also found it hard to believe. So I bought into the cult of hard work= great successes.

We’re really in love with this story in the United States. So many of our books and movies and cultural followings surround this idea. So I also bought into it. It has also been called the American Dream, and it’s so far entrenched in our culture that it’s hard to escape the narrative that we’re given our whole lives.

In High School I was informed time and time again that a college degree was a ticket to wealth and well-being. It was a ticket to getting what I wanted. For me that was getting out of loving below the poverty line and into the middle or even upper class (if I worked hard enough) . It meant being able to buy a home, and a car, and pay for my kids to go to summer camp. It meant having a few luxuries, such as trips to Europe and Asia. It meant getting to live a full life. One that I always dreamed of.

I did have one teacher that flat out asked us how much we really thought the American Dream made sense for all of us or for everyone. We all agreed it seemed far-fetched. But we all silently believed we would have our slice of the pie.

Fast forward 8-years and here we are. I’m 25, I have a BA in both Journalism and History. I have my MA in International Journalism and I’m only making a little more than my mother did 10 years ago cleaning hotel rooms or working as an assistant librarian (my mom only has a high school education, which was earned through home-schooling).

I bought into the cult of hard work=success. It also came with almost six-digits in debt that I have to figure out. All of this while the cost of living in the town I’m in has almost doubled in the last 10 years. While the wage I made in high school at an Ihop is not that much less than my current earnings. I work three jobs to get by. I have my own company as one, and do communications for a local teahouse and non-profit. I love the work I do. It’s all in the field I studied in (communications/Journalism) yet it’s not the way I was brought up to believe it would be.

I believed with my MA I could get that dream journalism job of 40k+ a year, not a massive sum, but combined with my Fiance’s income, we would be alright. We could manage.

The money quantifies the struggle, but the emotional reality is what is hardest. To 15 year old me, I’m failing. Even though it’s systemic as much as it is me. When you apply to 150 jobs and only get 3 interviews, it’s pretty crushing. I have done good work, but somehow I am not breaking through to the journalism field, so I’m nestling in PR and Communications. For good organizations this is rewarding. For the future and potential other customers, it brings up ethical concerns.

Perhaps my point is that I wish someone had told me, and all the other people feeling crushed and beat up: “Nothing is promised.” Literally nothing. You might be the smartest person in your school, or city, but unless you sort of luck out, or have support behind you that makes the right connections, it’s very hard to break free into the life you want.

I’m not giving up hope, I’m just reality checking myself in that this existence is very inconsistent and scattered. Sometimes life will lift you up and up and sometimes life will knock your knees out from under you. Adulting is hard, and none of us survive this thing called life.

So, my recommendation is: make good art, create good work, DO work hard on what brings you joy and knowledge. But enjoy all the little magical things that are around you. My family, Fiance and his daughter, along with my cat, are my bread and butter for my soul. Even with my education and all the things I vigilantly try and learn, that stupid fuzzy creature, the love of my life, and his silly, beautiful daughter are the best things about this existence.

And don’t forget, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be angry, and it’s okay to take risks to try and find your bliss.

There will be tears

musings, Uncategorized

I wish, I wish

musings

If only it was as easy as blowing out candles and getting a unicorn.

We all have wishes. Or rather hopes and dreams for our future. We wish for more money, better hair, another child, to travel the world etc.

These dreams give us goals to strive for something better than what we have. Which can be a good thing. The bad thing is when we don’t act on making them a reality. No doubt obstacles come up but fighting for what you want is where real success happens.

Growing up with minimal resources I wished to see the world, instead of waiting for a fairy to come and give me round trip tickets somewhere, I got a job, lived with my parents an extra year, and didn’t own a car so that I could do my first trip to Europe. Since then I have been two more times and have no doubt been able to do this because of others helping me, supporting my dreams and making sacrifices. My student loans can tell you that story, but I believe it was worth every penny of debt. Because it taught me more about myself and my abilities than any classroom could, or therapy session.

Some people get $100,000 in credit card debt, or buy a $50,000 sports car. Which is fine, but I spent my money on my dreams and something that benefited me for my future and it’s not just the travel. My education with that oh so shocking price tag was a chance for me to explore my mind and make something of it. No I may never be a millionaire but I know more and more about the world than I could from any other thing. I know about how to read stories, write stories, share information accurately and how my work can change minds and influence others. For thy pen is mightier than the sword.

Anyway, wishing is great, I wish all the time, for a better job, for more travel opportunities, for more money, to be out of debt, to have a nice wedding. I wish for all of these things, but the reality is unless I work towards them, then I will not get there. No, it’s not as easy as get degree-get job- have wonderful life. Because I bought into that idea for the last 10 years and it’s not reality. Yet, it’s just trying to find ways to thrive in any manner possible. It’s not always glamorous, it’s not always perfect, but I’m learning and working towards the wish(es) and that is all that matters.

So for you, even if you just do one thing today, do something for your future. Buy a book on learning Spanish, download Duolingo and take a few FREE lessons, pin some ideas on a Pinterest board. All around, just do it for you.

Lately I took some steps on reducing debt, cutting back on expenses and contacting others for help on establishing something of value- my own business. It may be ugly for a while, and I might want to stay in a hole, and I might lose hope at times. Yet, at the end of the day I am working on a wish and that is all that matters.

 

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson