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The First Draft

"Write drunk; edit sober."

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Thoughts

Coffee Shop Vibes

First, I apologize for the typical Millennial title. I just went with the first gut feeling.

A small local-owned coffee shop is one of those places where reality seems slightly altered.

As I looked down at the leaf design in my frothy latte, I couldn’t help but get lost in the world around me.

We chose a seat by a giant mirror with the words “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened enemies of the heir… beware.” Obviously, any Harry Potter fan would have a ball with this place.

My caramel-and-chocolate-flavored latte satisfied both my taste buds and my soul.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future.

What would happen if I looked for an extra job for the summer?

What would happen if I said, “Screw it,” to everything and just adventured?

How hard do I have to work for my dreams to come true ASAP?

The world is full of so many possibilities. It’s hard to find things to add to your plate that won’t push you over the edge.

It’s like when you’re a child, and everyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up. And the possibilities are endless.

And then you grow up and cross off 90 percent of those things because they’re unrealistic.

Except.

What if they aren’t?

I’ve reached a second part of my life where everything seems in reach again.

I can travel the world and blog. I can be the editor-in-chief of some high-class New York magazine. I can continue my education for as long as I desire, regardless of cost.

Each day brings me more opportunities. I am surrounded by individuals who inspire me and support me. I am surrounded by people who also believe they can leave this place and go anywhere.

Who says we can’t?

We are the future. And though we’re currently stuck in 8 a.m. lectures and spending our free moments studying in coffee shops, we will be the next CEOs and presidents. It’s undeniable.

The world is here for us to make our own.

And we will.

But first, I’ll finish my coffee. I have a long ride ahead of me. I’ll need all the caffeine I can get.

What I learned at the top of the parking deck

Thursday. 10 p.m.

It’s been a long day/week/semester, and quite frankly I’m beat.

My roommate and I ventured from our room for food to be greeted by mountains of clouds in the distance. Dark, deep gray with a layer of even darker and deeper gray behind it.

The clouds soared overtop of the horizon.

And just at the edges shown a hint of pink. The kind of pink that seems fluorescent against the gloomy sky.

After the rain, the atmosphere filled with the smell of wet pavement and the feeling of wholeness. It’s the calm before the storm.

The dark clouds and light sprinkle only warned us for the storm rolling in over the hills.

Eager to get a better look at the sunset, we went to find higher ground. Somewhere the buildings wouldn’t get in the way of our view.

The parking deck. Perfect.

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It doesn’t sound as poetic in words, but at the time, it did the trick.

Leaning against the railing, I could feel the wind in my hair. The wind that would normally frustrate me as a part of Indiana, Pa.

This time it felt different. It was calming.

For a few moments, I could forget about my hectic day. I could forget about my work that I have to do tomorrow and my exams that are coming up.

For a few moments, I could just focus on the simple pleasures of life as I watched a flash of lightning light up a small section of the clouds.

The lightning accentuated the pink. Complimenting it. One, a soft ray. The other, a destructive force. Both beautiful.

For the first time in a while, I was able to leave my own body. Forget I’m a person.

I could stand on the parking deck.

And watch the sun set.

 

Books to Read in 2017

  1. The Shell Collector – Anthony Doerr
  2. 1984 – Geroge Orwell
  3. About Grace – Anthony Doerr
  4. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  5. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  6. Four Seasons in Rome – Anthony Doerr
  7. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  8. Memory Wall – Anthony Doerr
  9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
  10. Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
  11. Heart of the Matter – Emily Giffin
  12. Who Do You Love – Jennifer Weiner
  13. The Edge of Lost – Kristina Mcmorris
  14. The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
  15. Heartless – Marissa Meyer
  16. The Fortunate Ones – Ellen Umansky
  17. We Were the Lucky Ones – Georgia Hunter

Yes, I’m a Journalist. No, I Don’t Care What You Think About That.

“Newspapers are dying.”

Why is this one of the first things I’m taught in a journalism class?

Since the beginning of high school, I knew I wanted to study journalism in college. There was no question about it.

I took a journalism class my freshman year of high school and completely fell in love with it.

The people I interviewed. The sense of accomplishment when I finished laying out my pages on production night. The smell of the ink as you first open the paper.

I’m not a naïve person.

I know that as technology advances, it’s more likely that readers will look to the Internet as their main news source. And if newspapers don’t have subscriptions to sell, how will they pay their staff?

Well I’m sure that if you ask any journalist, they will definitely tell you that they’re in this profession for the money. For sure.

That’s actually the main reason I wanted to be a journalist. I want to live in a big, fancy house and drive a big, expensive car.

Or maybe it’s because I want to give a voice to those who otherwise wouldn’t be heard.

As someone who is serious about wanting to step into this profession, I found my university’s newspaper as soon as I got onto campus.

The story I’m working on now focuses on the school’s television station and what they do.

After only my first interview, I could tell that it’s going to be a good story to tell.

My first journalism teacher taught me to find the “gold coin,” the hook that draws the reader in and makes them want to read more.

The gold coin here is the passion that these students have for what they do.

For some, it’s sports. For others, it’s theater or music. For these students, it’s creating a product to share with those around them.

I asked the girl how being a part of the television station has affected her life, and her face immediately lit up as she thought about her response.

In that moment, it hit me that this is why I want to study journalism.

When people read my article, they will get a glimpse into this girl’s little world.

Last year I had the pleasure of writing a story about a basketball coach that retired from coaching to take care of his cancer-stricken wife. After her passing, he returned to coaching to maintain a sense of normalcy.

Coaching basketball played such a large role in his life that he turned to it to help him get back on his feet.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read something that has emotionally impacted me in some way.

I’ve read articles that have made me laugh and columns that have made me cry.

Words have power.

I may not end up being “successful” in the sense that I make lots of money.

I will be successful in that my words will make a difference to someone. If at least one person is positively affected by something that I have written, I will claim success.

So don’t tell me my major is useless and newspapers are dying. It won’t divert me from this path.

When you’re done discouraging the journalists, why don’t you go over to your local library and notify them of their inevitable downfall due to Kindles and e-readers. I’m sure they’ll get a kick out of it.

Rejecting Rejection

I’m terrible with criticism and rejection, and this world is going to chew me up and spit me out.

I grew up with three older brothers and two loving parents. I wouldn’t say that I was spoiled, but I was never without attention.

Even so, my parents taught to me to work for what I wanted. I had to earn it. Nothing in this life is given to you on a silver platter.

This concept didn’t seem so difficult when I was younger. Pay attention in class. Get good grades. Simple. This would be a breeze.

You develop certain skills that you come to believe you’re good at. For some it’s math. For others it’s science. For me its writing.

I don’t have to think. Words just come out onto the paper.

I actually liked research papers. It gave me an excuse to escape to the solitude of the library to quietly be alone with my thoughts.

Psh you only want six pages? Are you sure you don’t want eight? Or 10? I could do this all day.

But at some point, there’s going to be a teacher that will hand you back your paper, and there’s going to be a big fat F on it. And suddenly your world stops.

But I’m good at this. This is my niche. This is the only thing I’m good at. You can’t take away from me.

It’s the same with anything else.

I’m a good friend. Or at least that’s what I like to think.

I’ll listen to you with my undivided attention. I’ll be your shoulder to cry on and give you advice when you ask for it. I’ll be the mom of the friend group and make sure no one makes any stupid decisions.

Let me tell you, it crushes you when a friend tells you that you aren’t doing enough for them. Forget about the fact that you know this friendship is one-sided, and you’re not the one lacking in effort.

How about when they tell you that you’re being selfish? Because God forbid you put your own happiness before others’ for the first time in your life.

People tell you to not worry about what others think about you, but I’m consumed by it.

My success in life is going to be based on if my professor deems my essay worthy of an A. Or if my potential employer thinks I’m good enough for the job. Or if my future husband decides that I’m the one worthy spending the rest of his life with.

These thoughts eat me up, and it’s terrifying.

I live my life by speaking when spoken to, and knowing when to keep my mouth shut.

I don’t push my beliefs in other people’s faces. I don’t bring up my opinions in debates.

I just can’t risk facing that criticism.

And I can’t face not being good enough.

So, life, I’m sorry.

I’m going to hide from you and get anxious when you put me in difficult situations.

Just make sure that every once in a while, you throw me a bone and give me someone that reminds me that I am good enough.

Because sometimes that alone is too big of a job for me to do myself.

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