If I’m being honest, I’ve carried around a secret dream with me for the past few years. It’s the kind of dream that I don’t think I’ll ever actually act on, but a really great dream nonetheless. The truth is, I’ve always wanted to be a writer for shows like Parks and Rec and The Office. I just think it would be so much fun to create beautiful, real, silly relationships out of everyday scenarios. It’s my ‘maybe someday’ dream.
There are more pressing, urgent dreams I have that I need to fulfill – like working in education reform, and mandating sexual health education in all 50 states, and ending mental health stigmas once and for all and even running for office, and and and !!! – there’s so many things I want to do!
But writing for a comedy show? And if I’m being even more honest, ACTING for the show I’m writing for TOO?! That thought makes me feel selfishly giddy.
I pushed myself to audition for a comedy troupe Freshman year of college, and I got in. Yet, even after two years, I still feel utterly out of my comfort zone, and like I will never be as good as others who seem to have a natural knack for timing and improv.
Yet, I want so badly to be good at it. I want to be as powerful and unashamed as my personal heros are.
When I watch Carrie Brownstein star alongside Fred Armisen as a total equal in Portlandia, and when I watch her scream about ‘Ayo River’ and a stupid, freaking camping video, I feel like I want to scream with her. More importantly, I feel like I maybe COULD scream like her, and be as funny.
When I read Jessi Klein’s book, I felt utterly empowered and thought to myself… ‘wow, maybe I can tackle the rawness of the female experience in the same way’.
And when I watch a girl I go to school with do improv, I am left speechless. She is not there to be ‘beautiful’ or ‘feminine’ – she is there to be absolutely, incomparably hilarious. I can’t even tell you what it means to me to watch her, a female just like me, absolutely OWN the stage.
And I’ve written and spoken a lot about the influence that Leslie Knope and Amy Poehler have had on me, but I will do it again:
God, I feel alive just thinking about how unbelievable these people are.
These are a few powerhouse females that have made me want to be more. So many women in comedy have made an impact on me so large I feel that my heart growing just thinking about it.
So, maybe someday I’ll contribute to creating something that leaves others inspired, stunned, and in total and utter awe.
Noises they surround us all the time. Noises I want to escape. But how long will I be on the run. How am I going to do what I am supposed to do? Fear of failure because I have never experienced one before. Frustration when I so want to give up but can’t. Why can’t I concentrate, why can’t I be happy and cheerful like people around me? What I am looking for? Am I on a quest for a thing that is not even there?
These are noises in my head and one such night these took a toll on me. I started crying, I didn’t know what I was crying for? I was angry; I wanted to smash something just so I can get over this feeling. I am not sad but I am not happy either. I don’t know how to say it, but somehow I did manage to tell my friend that I am not alright. She understood. She consoled me and that was all I needed.
One thing that I am grateful for is I never lose control over myself. I know something is wrong before it turns into something worse. So I decided to pen it down. The next morning I woke up and decided to look for a solution to lead a healthy life.
Let me make it clear, I never had any suicidal thoughts. I have always loved being alive. I understood the value of life when I saw some poor people living by the roadside in very palpable conditions, yet clinging to life. I knew then and there, how privileged I am.
But something was not quite right. You can hide it from the world but not yourself. So I decided to do introspection, to know what went wrong and where?
I found out it is not a thing that happens out of the blue. It is a gradual process. It doesn’t matter if you have a boring daily routine or a pre-planned day. It is when you work hard to meet the expectation of others, not yours. When you work hard enough but there is no reward. When you think why things come easily to other people. You start comparing each and everything. Such comparisons lead to nothing but a void feeling. That is the void no one else can fill but you. When you don’t have a direction to go, things start to scatter all over the place. You don’t know which one to collect first. I learnt it the hard way but at least now I have an understanding. My whole experience taught me this:
I had 12 goals for this year. I have written them in my journal. One day when I was crossing some of them off the list, I realized how some of them had become obsolete. They make no sense to me. So much changes in a year. I have successfully checked off some goals. It became clear to me that my goals are ever changing. So rather than planning my year I should plan my monthly goals so that I have an understanding where I am heading and how many of them are still valid or invalid to me.
There was a course that I had to complete and take the exam. But the fear that no matter how prepared I am I’ll fail, is all over my mind(even when I am writing this). The year is coming to an end and I am still not over my fear. In this moment, I told myself that one failure won’t decide the course of my life if it somehow happens to be so. I have to believe in myself and give my best. Just get it done with.
You won’t be able to understand your own issue until you try and talk to someone who understands. Talking gives your emotions a way out. It clears the blur picture. On the crossroads of life it is a best medicine. I now have a better understanding what is going wrong and how I can be back on track.
In this race of chasing of the goals we are so self-indulge that we have no sense of time. We lose that touch with ourselves, our feelings. I was always in a hurry because I had to do so many things simultaneously. I then decided to take a week off. I made sure I get good sleep; wake up whenever I want to, even if it’s 11 in the morning. I made sure to have breakfast with nothing in mind. I made sure that I enjoy my morning coffee without planning my day ahead. I gave myself ample of time. And it’s paying me in good way.
I don’t know what 2017 has for me, but I do have something for me. I don’t believe in making New Year resolution but I do believe in my dreams and my goals.
See where the wind takes me, for I am ready to find myself again.
“PLEASE READ.” Simple, straightforward, and sharp, these words seem so insignificant. Yet, they completely changed MY outlook on life and my hope is that they can change YOURS.
When I was 16 I attended a leadership conference where I was told to write down a goal and mine was that I wanted to be a journalist. But then they threw me a loop by telling me to plan out all of the things I would be doing THAT VERY MONTH to get closer to achieving that goal. I was baffled.
When you’re an adult, that is when you do big things. Most importantly, when you’re an adult, that is when you can become a journalist. But after that workshop, I was INSPIRED. I went online and found the e-mail addresses of newspaper editors throughout the nation and sent them all a desperate e-mail labeled “PLEASE READ’’ in capital letters, begging for any opportunity available. Yet, many replied only to tell me how it was “oh so cute” that I had reached out and to contact them again when I was older.
Others did not reply at all. As you can imagine, I was beginning to feel deflated. I was a popped balloon, all of my hope leaking from my body, floating away into an abyss that we call space. I thought I had no chance. I could feel my dream slipping from my grasp, and I didn’t know what I could possibly do to keep my hold on it. But just as I was reaching the ultimate despair, I received an e-mail from an editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
So I did. And to summarize, I began writing for the newspaper in my home city, with some of my articles even appearing on the front page of their respective sections. But that’s enough about me. That is not the point of this conversation. The real point of this conversation is that we need to begin taking control of our lives and destinies every single day, and this is so important now as college students.
If there’s a class you want to take but don’t have the prerequisites, e-mail the teacher, meet with the department, and do your best to secure your spot. If there’s a guy or girl that you’re into, talk to them, get their number, and ask them out.
Stop waiting for something to happen and go MAKE it happen. The example I always give to my friend is to imagine that you are in line at Starbucks. People might be able to assume that you’re waiting for coffee, but until you actually get the courage to go up that counter and ASK for some, there won’t be ANY coffee in YOUR hands. So take a chance and be bold, because sometime’s that’s as simple as merely sending an e-mail labeled “PLEASE READ.”
Jessica is also part of a phenomenal organization all AIESEC. In conjunction with our partnership with their organization, please see their blog here!
When I graduated high school, I was voted ‘Most Likely to go to the Olympics.’ Well, I’m going. But not in the way I always dreamed.
To be honest, I don’t actually know how old I was when I did my first triathlon (a race comprised of swimming, biking and running). If I had to take a guess, it would probably be six or seven years old. And no, I didn’t instantly fall in love or excel at the sport. I tried just about every sport you could think of before I went back to triathlon.
My first triathlon of significance was when I was in eighth grade. After having a bout of thinking I was destined to be the female Steve Prefontaine and another bout of thinking my big break in swimming was just around the corner, I decided to really TRY triathlon. Both my mom and my dad competed in Ironmans, along with being exceptional athletes throughout their lifetimes.
Throughout high school, I balanced club swimming, running and triathlon. The seasons of life followed the seasons of high school sports. Fall meant cross country, winter meant swimming, spring meant track and for me, summer meant triathlon. All the while, I did my best to maintain training in all three sports. And it worked. I actually began to excel at being a swimmer, a runner and most of all, a triathlete.
By the time the beginning of my senior year rolled around, there was no looking back. I was enamored by triathlon and knew I could succeed if I just dedicated all of my energy to being a triathlete. This meant giving up school dances, weekends with friends, laying out at the pool and so many other typical high school activities, but I did it without thinking twice. Heck, on the day of my senior prom I ran a track race in the morning, went and took pictures, ditched my date, went back to the track to run another race, then rode to prom with my mom. Yeah, that was my life.
In school, I went from being the girl who did triathlons to being the girl who was really good at triathlons. I went to every local race expecting to win and being disappointed if I didn’t. On the junior elite circuit, I put up consistent top-10 finishes in the 2013 season. I was even invited to the US Olympic Training Center for a short training camp.
Then came college. College was supposed to be a place where I would push myself even further in triathlon; where I would truly become the best of the best. But that’s not what happened. Caring about your academic success and training at an elite level without the support of your university’s athletic association simply do not go hand in hand. University athletes have tutors, trainers, doctors, anything you can imagine, right at their disposal. I had nothing but my will to succeed.
After having a terrible first race of the 2104 season, I decided it was time for a ‘traincation.’ During my freshman year spring break, I drove down to Clermont, Florida to train with my coach and do absolutely nothing else. By the end of the week, I was experiencing some tightness and soreness in my back and decided to wrap up a day early to go home and relax. And that’s when my life changed.
A couple days after returning to school from traincation and a week before my departure to Arizona for collegiate nationals, I woke up and wasn’t able to stand up straight. Imagine a wet branch in the woods. You know how you try and break it, but since it isn’t fully dry wood, some strands still hang on at a weird 45 degree angle? Well, that was my back. My legs and hips were just fine, but a sharp pain in my lower back caused me not to be able to stand up straight. This pain escalated so much through the following days, that even rolling over in bed became excruciatingly painful.
I began treatment with a local chiropractor, but as the school year wrapped up, I had no choice but to leave Athens. I was nowhere near complete with treatments, so I spent the entire summer of 2014 driving back and forth between home and Athens, a four hour round trip.
By the end of summer, I finally thought that I was healed. I thought that my back was ready to get back into the same shape it once was. I quickly learned that that was far from the case. As the weeks went on and I tried to get back into the swing of training, it quickly became clear that my clock had run out.
Having something that once meant everything to you ripped out from under feet is one of the hardest things in the world to cope with. And that’s because I placed my identity in my success as an athlete. What was I if I wasn’t the girl who was really good at triathlons?
To this day, I still suffer anxiety from not being able to train. I have severe guilt when a day passes that I don’t exercise- whether it be by choice or fault of my back. When I do run, I feel depression because I am not as fast as I used to be. I struggle with the fact that new people I meet don’t know this cool fact about me and that my body has changed significantly.
I learned that there is a story to tell. Every athlete is made of something different and every athlete has a unique path that led them to where they are today. And those stories deserve to be not only told, but also celebrated.
I have the unique opportunity to tell athlete’s stories through my job and my degree. I would not have found the affinity to share their stories had it not been for my back. And now I get to tell athlete’s stories on the biggest stage in sport: The Olympics.
I’ll spend nearly the entirety of August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the U.S. Olympic Committee communications staff reporting what is happening regarding all things Team USA at the games. I may not be competing in the Olympics like athlete me always dreamt of, but now I get to support others as they pursue their dreams. And that’s what the new me dreams of.
As a senior in college, I look forward to the many new beginnings that are fast approaching me—a new internship, new jobs and career to explore, new people to cross paths with, new places to adventure off to, and whatever else “new” that life might bring my way.
I’ve got no clear idea of what I want to spend the rest of my life doing, but I am up for the journey and feel confident that I am not alone during this pivotal moment in life. I am not the only one without a clue or sense of direction and I find comfort in knowing that we are all doing our best to figure it out. We are all hustling to make something marvelous of our lives, big or small, and the only thing we can truly promise to ourselves is take each day at a time and embrace the place where life happens. To live in the present moment, head held high and back to the wind, not worried about the past or future but rather making the most of the very moment at hand.
I’ve been back at school for almost two months now and have been constantly bombarded with questions of my future. “What are your summer plans?” “What does your resume look like?” “How many internships have you applied for?” “Are you graduating on time?” “What’s your next move?” “What’s your 5-year plan look like?”…I barely know what I am going to have for dinner every night so I’m sure you can guess how well answering those questions has been going.
But things got pretty serious when one day I got tired of telling someone that I didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to do. Why don’t I have at least some idea…because I have hopes and dreams as big as the damn ocean but for some reason when I’m asked, “what do you want to do?” I always come up short and default to an answer that is within some broad stroke of communications. Is it because of some social construct that I fear my aspirations won’t be “good enough”? Or is it because I fear failure rather than embrace the opportunity it brings to reshape, refocus or redirect?
I recently found myself passing time in the library before a lecture class. During this time, I spent the majority of it on my computer bouncing around to randomly selected and suggested philosophical sermons on YouTube. Strange, I know, but it was totally inspiring. One that really struck a chord with me was entitled “What do you want, really?” by Howard Thurman. In this 12-minute audio clip, Thurman shares a very insightful message with his audience and talks of the moment that we ask ourselves, “what is the fundamental thing that I’m after with my life?” What drives us forward? He then explains the two types of people in this world. Ones that believe life to be fixed, hard, pre-determined and finished. And ones of the mind that life of its essence is fluid, creative and that purposes, goals, dreams, ideas, etc. can fulfill themselves because of the fluidity that exists in all life.
Thurman goes on to talk of how people who think of life as fixed and hard quickly exhaust their minds and rarely see the light of happiness and that those who believe in the ebb and flow of this creative life remain inspired and respected. As human beings, it is within our very nature to have a pinned goal or dream, or many, that is of transcendent significance to us. The difference in reaching that goal or dream all relies within the heart and mind of the person. It requires a person willing to put all resources to their disposal, a person unafraid of failure and motivated by all of the challenges along the road. Thurman says that this is the kind of world that honors that journey of the mind and spirit that together can say one thing and be that. This is the type of world that validates the struggle of all dreamers and pushes those dreamers to exceed even their very own limits.
Now that my perspective has been adjusted, I am full-heartedly seeking my dreams no matter how unattainable they seem—because to me, that is a life worth living. I hope to get out of my home state and possibly move west, and what better time to do it than now?
No matter what I choose to pursue, I remain hopeful that it incorporates my love for the arts and requires my creativity to be tested constantly. If you too are feeling bogged down by constructs of society, rest assured knowing that this world honors your journey of self-discovery and that there is no “right” path. Always remember to keep an open mind and open heart while exploring the fluidity of the beautiful life you’ve been given. Happiness will meet you along the way.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
One quote that I have really lived by throughout my entrepreneurship journey is “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation”.
To start off, I never imagined myself joining the “entrepreneurship world” my junior year of college. However, it happened because I was prepared when the opportunity presented itself. Being a successful entrepreneur takes a bit of luck, but if you are not mentally prepared to receive your luck when the moment presents itself, you will miss it!
I came up with my business idea while studying abroad in France. One weekend I took a trip to Barcelona, and while there, I met another American who happens to be a successful entrepreneur himself. Stepping out of my comfort zone, I decided to start conversing with him and told him about a business idea I had.
After telling him my idea, he then asked me “ So, why are you not working to bring this idea to life”. Being a 20-year college student, I had a lot of reasons why I wasn’t starting a business, with the most being that I had NO IDEA how to start a business or had the money to do so. He gave me his email to contact him and that was the last time I saw him.
Rule #2 on being an entrepreneur, Take all of your shots! Which means, take all opportunity that’s comes your way, no matter how small! All I had was his email, but six months later, I now have a business on the way to raise funds and expand. After getting his email, I was proactive and email him asking for advice on how to bring this idea to life. He then emailed me back with a four-step procedure on how to go about building my app. Now that I had the steps of building an app, the next important thing was investing the capital (AKA money) to actually start in the process.
Rule #3, if YOU don’t take the risk and believe in your idea enough to invest personal capital into it, no one else will. With this mindset, I took all of my saving that I was planning to use to backpack Europe and invested it into the development of my new app. However, before that I had to do some research of my own. Do people actually NEED you service or idea? Rule #4 ask them! After a few months of research, I began the process of hiring a developer to code my app. It was hard draining all of my saving on this new “ Idea” I had that could fail. However, I believed in it enough to take the short term lost for a long-term benefit in the future.
Three months later, I had an app. Now what? The second semester of my junior year was the most challenging semester yet. Imagine getting up every day at 6 am and not getting back home till midnight and redoing that every weekday for the whole semester.
But, I was okay with that because I knew my future looked brighter. I would party once I reached my first million. While working all day on developing and marketing my idea, I would also spend nights after school applying to as much pitch competitions as I could. So many people want to be entrepreneurs because of the money, being your own boss, or the lavish lifestyle, BUT so little of them are willing to actually put in the work. During my semester, I participated in 3 pitch competitions and got second place in all 3.
Rule # 5 – second place is the #1 loser! However, that did not break my spirit because I knew that I was willing to hard to one day come in first place. Rule #6 – take feedback and keep moving. It is hard to deal with a losing or not getting investments after putting endless hours into your idea which sometimes means staying up until 6 am working on your pitch deck, but the most important thing to remember is that practice makes perfect. Yes, I am now out of thousands of dollars invested into my idea, but opportunities will present itself if you keep believing in yourself and your product. A few days after my competition, I received a message from a friend who saw my Facebook post about my new app on and was interested in helping me market the app to schools in California. On top of that, she also knows some angel investors are interested in investing in my app. A week after that, I received another email informing me that I was accepted into a another major pitch competition in Florida to present my idea in front of CEO’s of major companies. To think that I just lost 3 competitions in a row to now being offered all of these amazing opportunity was surprising.
Thus concluding my story by saying that on the road to becoming an successful entrepreneur, you must ready for your lucky moment by preparing yourself. Another quote that I now live my life by is that “ If you are 100% committed, you will not fail” Be 100% committed to your idea even if you don’t not win the 1st, or 3rd, or even 20th pitch competition or pitch to investors, if you believe in yourself 100% you will succeed.
It was a really good book that explains how to grow a successful business while also helping your community and world. It taught me how I should not only consider profit and growth, but how my product and services can help others and the world.
Written by the two Australian cofounders Ido Leffler and Lance Kalish, Yes to Carrots has become one of the largest beauty brands in the world and is one of the fast growing skincare brands. Through their entrepreneurial journey, they’ve made many great decisions and some really bad. In Get Big Fast and Do More Good, they share their secret to success: a strong, resilient, trusting partnership with a great sense of humor.