As I sat in my new house in Elon, North Carolina contemplating how I wanted to share what has been on my mind lately, I realized that the last time I wrote about something besides travelling was in August. August! That was five months ago. My blog was my first outlet where I felt like I could write and listen to what I had to say, and maybe other people would want to listen too. That's a weird concept, you know? How often do you listen to what you have to say? Today, so many people and things are shouting at us - believe this, read this, look at this, do this - especially in my generation. I think we often forget who is really in charge of what we are doing, thinking and believing - we are in charge of what we believe and do.
but, don't be afraid to tell yourself to shut up.
While I was living in Dublin and travelling, it was often the little things that made me the most anxious. Many of these things were out of my control. I started to learn how to better cope with the anxiety I felt over such small problems. In turn, I began to focus my energy and the time I spent worrying into being productive. Suddenly, I was pushing myself to do things I would not have thought possible before travelling to Dublin. I decided to apply for a spring-semester internship. "Yeah, maybe you could handle a full-time class schedule and an internship. Why not?" Then, I decided to apply to be the Vice President of Recruitment of the Panhellenic Association at Elon. That is, direct all of sorority recruitment. I almost talked myself out of that one - "There is definitely someone more qualified than you. Why not a smaller position in Panhellenic?" Then, I convinced myself to reach out to the company I dreamed of interning with last year and experienced my first awfully hard disappointment when I did not get the internship. As I wrote the email, I thought, "They already know you - you interviewed last year and they didn't want you. Why not try a new company?" But I forced myself to hit "send" anyway. Then, I convinced myself not to apply to be the Student Leader of Elon's Catholic Ministry trip to Jamaica that I went on and raved about last year after it changed my life. "You are a good leader, sure, but you're not super religious. There are so many people who are good leaders and more religious - leave it to them." But, after some hesitation and some self-encouragement, I poured my heart into my application and applied.
Then, I waited. "Maybe, you will get one of the four things. Maybe, you were right, and your newfound confidence will pay off a little." Maybe.
tell others what you're thinking, and maybe you'll hear it too.
Without even realizing it, the first way I learned to do that was by writing. I clarify things in my brain by reading what I am writing. Then, it began happening that way with spoken words, too. If I am upset, or excited, or nervous, it does not feel real until I say it out loud to someone. I started to realize that if I talked out my doubts or my hopes, it often helped me to understand what was going on in my head and make sense of whatever I was going through.
With that realization, I started a second journal. Thanks to a recommendation from a friend and mentor, I started The Five Minute Journal, a journal that prompts you to reflect on the same principles every single day: what you are thankful for, what would make today great, and positive affirmations ("I am..."). Then, every night, you are prompted on what made today amazing, and what could have made today better. Same five prompts, every single morning and night. In one month, it has begun to transform how I see self-talk. I am telling myself everything I need to hear without even realizing it until later. I took this picture in bed tonight before I sat down to write this post, and if I just convinced you of its power, you can buy it here.
Talk about yourself.
Last April, I wrote this blog post about having faith in yourself and your decisions and not chalking everything that happens to you up to fate. Accountability, if you will. I wrote about the disappointment I experienced when I did not get the internship I wanted most last summer. But most importantly, I said that I knew better things were coming. Rachel, holla girl, because damn right they were coming.
Within a two week span, my world turned upside down in the best way. I received an offer to intern with Trone Brand Energy, an advertising agency in High Point, NC this spring. Then, I was slated to be the next Vice President of Recruitment for the Panhellenic Association. Just days later, I accepted the position of Student Leader of Elon's 2019 trip to Jamaica. A few weeks later, I got an interview with the same company that had turned me down the year before after I reached out again. Last week, I accepted a full time summer internship with that company - March Communications, a tech PR agency in Boston.
And since then, I have been talking about it. I told everyone that asked me how I was. At first, I hesitated - I value being humble and I wasn't really sure if anyone besides me cared. But, the more I explained my next endeavors to my friends and family, the more I started to value them and really understand just how lucky I am to be here now.
Listen to yourself.
I am proud. I am proud of myself and my faith in myself. "Talking" to myself and listening to what I had to say changed my entire perspective on what I am capable of, and it changed my future. I wanted to share my accomplishments with my readers and I did not want to sound like I was bragging - so I hope this is an effective of way of doing both things.
I think it can be hard, especially in college but all throughout your adult life, to find your voice and not lose it. I think people, especially women, often doubt anyone wants to hear what they think. To every single person reading this: people do care, and people will listen. But first, take the time to listen to yourself.
Remember when I said I would get my post about my final trip up before I went back home to the U.S? Haha, well, life happened and here I am almost a month later finally finishing my rave about Amsterdam! I apologize for the delay, but that does not make my last trip in Europe any less amazing. Get ready!
For my final trip abroad, my entire friend group and I went to Amsterdam! When I was planning cities I wanted to see while abroad, Amsterdam was close to the top of the list. I always loved everything I saw about Amsterdam and was so happy when it was featured in John Green's The Fault In Our Stars and then in the film adaption. We only had about two days in Amsterdam, and it was absolutely filled with fun experiences.
When I visited Poland in high school, I had the honor of touring two concentration camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau (Auschwitz II). It was one of the most moving and memorable experiences of my entire life. It was during that trip that I realized there is so much you can learn in school and through textbooks, but to really understand the world, you have to go out and see it - and feel it. It was also through that trip I became especially interested in Holocaust history and since then, I have visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C (highly recommend!) and the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, and I had always wanted to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. As soon as we booked our tickets to Amsterdam, I researched the Anne Frank House and made sure I bought my all-inclusive pass two months in advance. It was absolutely the best highlight of Amsterdam and one of my favorite parts of my semester. You are not allowed to take pictures in the house, but my friend took this one at the very beginning. I cannot explain how surreal it was to be in the actual annex the Frank family and friends hid in for over two years. I have the utmost respect for them and their long, absolutely unjustifiable journey through being Jewish in the Netherlands.
There is a chain of pancake houses in Amsterdam called simply, Pancakes! and I knew I needed to visit one. For those of you who do not know, pancakes are my absolute favorite food of all time. I am obsessed with them; I had my dad's pancakes in the ten days I was home upwards of six times. My friends and I went to the Pancakes! location right next to the Anne Frank house. I got two huge buttermilk pancakes with a fried egg, bacon, and maple syrup. It was the FIRST time I had pancakes in Europe (they are really hard to find), and they were delicious.
After breakfast, we headed to the museum square, which is the home of many popular museums as well as a market. The first museum we went to was the Van Gogh Museum. It was absolutely incredible. I got to see one of my favorite paintings, Sunflowers, and many other classic Van Goghs. My favorite exhibit was called "Dreams," and it actually did not feature any paintings. It was more of an interactive exhibit that depicted each stage of Van Gogh's life as an artist with amazing walk-through rooms, lighting, and sound effects. We actually went through twice because it was so cool.
The next day, we returned to the museum square to see the MOCO Museum, home to Banksy paintings. It was also featuring an Icy and Sot exhibit at the time. I absolutely love Banksy's work - I find it so compelling and I absolutely love all the prominent issues his work seeks to protest, including police brutality issues in the United States. Many of his paintings are so clever I could not help but smirk or laugh out loud once I understood what he was conveying.
Below is one of my absolute favorite Banksy works that was featured in the MOCO. It is a statue of a priest with his face "blurred" out with squares. This is meant to denounce the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church. This work really, really spoke to me as someone who is Catholic and has closely followed the scandal. You can read more about the piece and its relation to the scandal here.
Prior to visiting the MOCO, I did not know of Icy and Sot. However, I was extremely impressed with their work and their story. Icy and Sot are two brothers who grew up in Iran and started creating artwork to protest different world issues including discrimination against Muslims, war, and gun violence. They ended up fleeing Iran when their safety was in jeopardy because of their controversial artwork, and they now reside in the U.S and continue to create moving, detailed pieces. The work below is a sculpture of a pencil with the trigger of a gun attached to it - meant to, of course, denounce the influx of senseless school shootings in America. I wish I could post more of their work - but I definitely encourage you to look them up and see some of their work yourself. This is their Instagram.
Another thing I was really looking forward to trying in Amsterdam was a Stroopwafel. They are a thin, crunchy waffle with caramel in between, sometimes covered with toppings such as Nutella or chocolate, among others. They are amazing. Like, so damn (haha) good. The first Stroopwafel I got was at a market we went to - pictured below. The man made them fresh right in front of us and it was SO good. We also got more the next day at little hole-in-the-wall Stroop cafe.
When most people think of Amsterdam, they think of the classic canal-with-the-bikes Instagram post. I cannot say I was not looking forward to this too, and let me tell you - they were everywhere. According to one of my tour guides in Amsterdam, there are over 880,000 bikes in the city - over four times the amount of cars. They are everywhere, and they definitely add to the aesthetic.
My trip to Amsterdam was a great way to end my journey around Europe. I spent one last week in Dublin before heading home for the holidays.
I absolutely cannot say enough about my time abroad. I am so grateful and forever indebted to Elon University and my parents for making this semester possible. But, I am even more indebted to myself for getting out of my comfort zone and taking life for what it is. It is one hell of a ride when you let it begin. To my loyal readers, thank you for allowing me to share my crazy adventures with you! One year after beginning my little blog, I am over 10,000 views strong and can only dream bigger.
Here's to 2019 and all that is to come. xx
Just living, learning + loving and writing some of it down along the way. Senior + Director of Panhellenic Recruitment at Elon University in North Carolina. Currently interning + curating social for some badass clients at SFW in Greensboro, NC. Yogi, sightseer, shopaholic, foodie, writer.
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