72 hours Without Social Media

I work as a digital community manager, which is a fancy title for someone who is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. all day. As much as I love social media, it’s like loving a dragon: majestic and intriguing, but at any moment it can swallow you up in flames. Sometimes it sickens me to think about how much time I waste scrolling through feeds or mindlessly flipping through photos.

There’s the classic debate that the Internet is ruining the way we interact with each other and the world. You’ve heard it before: we’re a society more focused on our screens than each other. We’re too plugged in. Some say social media makes us depressed. It makes us obese. It makes us dumb. The list goes on.

Since my friends and family describe me as a social media addict, I decided to try a little experiment — a 72 hour social media cleanse. I wanted to see if I could handle three days without checking anything, and how it would impact my mood. Does social media really ruin my life? Is it a waste of my time? Can I be more productive without it?

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Just like 127 hours. Except it’s 72 hours, and I don’t have to cut my arm off.

The Rules

Since I work in social media, it’s unavoidable. I can’t unplug my computer and fall off the face of the social media planet because it’s part of my job. The main rule was that I could not check personal social media platforms for 72 hours via any device (notable examples: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). To make sure I didn’t cheat, I stopped all notifications entirely. My phone wouldn’t alert me if someone commented on my accounts. I took off all of the sites from my browser bookmarks, put the mobile apps in a special folder titled “DO NOT USE THESE” and downloaded software to block the sites for 72 hours.

The Night Before the Cleanse

According to my recent browser history, I checked my personal Facebook 28 times over a 10-hour period. This doesn’t even include the times I checked from my phone, which I would guess is relatively similar if not more. The worst part is this is less than average usage. I typically check Facebook 50+ times a day. I estimate around the same for Twitter and Instagram. It’s a habit as engrained in my everyday life as brushing my teeth or biting my nails. I don’t even think about it when I do it. This is going to be rough.

Day One

I crave it.

I’m too much of a wimp to ever try hard drugs (you’re welcome Mom and Dad) but I assume this is what intense withdrawal feels like after a lifetime of heroin addiction. My entire routine felt empty. I usually wake up and check each site before I even get out of bed. I scroll through my newsfeed like it’s the morning paper. The bright light of my screen is a nice transition to the real world.

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The internet is full of weird things…

This morning, I woke up and felt deflated. I literally didn’t know what to do with myself, so I stared at the ceiling. My streetcar commute dragged on with nothing to hold my attention. I became impatient as each stop lingered for what felt like hours. During my work break, I daydreamed of red notifications. I even tried to convince myself I could check LinkedIn because it’s “work-related” but thankfully got a hold of myself. No cheating.

I guess I’ll read a book I thought melodramatically, as if reading is the worst thing in the world. What is wrong with me?

Day Two

I’m annoyed at the fact that I can’t do something I want to do. I’m anxious and bored. It’s like being a child and Mom says you can’t watch TV anymore. I’m starting to feel extremely disconnected and lonely. Most of my friends communicate through Facebook groups because it’s easier than endless group texts flooding your phone. It’s not even that I feel like I’m missing out on things, but more that I don’t have freedom to do what I want to do.

People probably think this is pathetic. “Why don’t you…?

You don’t get it. I need constant entertainment. I’m so used to always doing something, even if it’s as trivial as reading through a newsfeed. I kept myself busy today. I exercised, cleaned, read a book, embraced nature — I was productive. But I can’t keep myself entertained for the in-between-activity time. What do I do while I wait for transportation? What do I do during commercials? With 2 minutes left on the microwave? Wow, I’m impatient.

Not to mention, this was a crucial day for sharing because I had an adorable puppy on my lap all day. A SLEEPING PUPPY NESTLED IN MY ARMS! The world needs to see this precious pup snoring.

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THIS IS WHAT YOU MISSED OUT ON, WORLD. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Instead, I bombarded my friends with picture messages. I feel like I’m bothering people. With social media, people can check it at their own leisure and deal with the information however they please. You could even hide me from your newsfeed. I feel like I’m intruding on people’s space when I send them a million text messages. I’m unavoidable. I feel like a burden (I mean, I think adorable puppies are crucial but that’s just me…).

Day Three

I think I finally got the hang of it. I kept myself busy all day. I planned every hour so I could feel like my time wasn’t passing slowly. For the seconds I wasn’t occupied with activities, I was lost in thought. I’ve gotten really good at staring out windows or wandering aimlessly.

I also know it is the end. Knowing I only have 24 hours left gives me the last motivation I need to push through. I don’t feel more productive though. Even writing this last entry for day three is painstakingly difficult. I don’t know what to say, and I don’t feel creative. I lost my drive because I’m at a point where I don’t know if people even care about what I have to say.

It’s embarrassing to admit that I am so reliant on validation, even if it’s a dumb Facebook “like” that means nothing in the grand scheme of things. However, since I feel so out of touch with everything, I wonder if people even care. Should you care? What am I proving? Why does what I’m doing matter?

Three days without social media and you can revert to the unplugged life seamlessly. You can go through the motions — wake up, go to work, go to sleep, repeat. But you’ll also feel disconnected and meaningless.

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The Verdict

During my cleanse, a few friends emailed me (old-school!) an article that resonated with me about a guy who quit the Internet for one year. It also makes me laugh because I could barely handle 72 hours. In the article, Paul Miller says he expected to have some sort of grand revelation about life. He imagined himself becoming more productive, more personable, and more of the way he should be before the internet ruined everything. After one year, he realized it’s not the Internet — it’s him.

“I can’t blame the internet, or any circumstance, for my problems. I have many of the same priorities I had before I left the internet.” — Paul Miller

I don’t regret giving it up. It was a good challenge allowing me to reflect on myself, but I don’t think I’ll do it again. More than anything, it was stressful being unable to use it at my leisure. I felt limited because I couldn’t connect to people that matter to me.

Social media does not give my life meaning, but relationships give my life meaning. Without it, I wasn’t able to keep those up easily. Face-to-face interaction is necessary, but depends on other conditions out of my control. Most days, I only see my coworkers and my roommate. A phone call is great, but once the other end clicks, I’m back to nothing. A text is fine, but it’s reliant on the other person responding quickly, and I feel like a burden if I don’t have useful information. People are busy. They can’t text me all day long or spend hours on the phone. I forgot birthdays. I missed events.

Without social media, there’s no way I could stay in touch with everyone. It’s just how we connect these days. I’m sure someday in the future there will be another addition, and we’ll think “how did we do it before this!”. The underlying point is I like staying in touch with people because I care about what’s going on in their life. That’s something I didn’t realize before I did this challenge.

It is exciting to hear from someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, or find a common interest with a new friend you would have otherwise overlooked. It’s encouraging to see people getting jobs, spreading good news, or feeling excited about the future. You never know how someone is going to affect you. Humans are social creatures by nature, but it takes work. Frankly, I’d rather make it easier to connect than harder.

Baby Steps

I’m usually good at keeping my word. However, when it comes to resolutions, I’ve never been successful. Ever. And I probably never will be.

Let’s take a little gander at last year’s “New Year’s Resolution” blog post. Ahh, 2012 — I was bright eyed and dreamy about how I would really accomplish it all and prove all those naysayers wrong. This is the year, I’m tellin’ ya!

Welp, it’s 2013 now. Did I stick to any of those resolutions? NOPE!

It was great in theory, but who was I kidding with “20 crunches and 5 push-ups everyday, no excuses!”…Have I met myself? I never do the same thing in one day. You’re probably sitting there with a smirk and raised eyebrow thinking “hah, classic Kelsey — never finishing what she starts!

I’ve always been like this. I pick up a new interest, decide it’s my life passion, and then a couple weeks later forget about it when I move onto the next adventure. This is why my dad still complains about the various junk that collects dust in our garage from years of accumulating new “hobbies”.

This year, I’m not going to come up with some extravagant promise to ______ every single day because I finally admit to myself (and the internet) that I won’t do it. Instead of a resolution, I’m going to take baby steps in 2013.

My first baby step starts with this blog. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about successful blogging but I rarely practice what I preach. My blog is a goldfish that I neglect for weeks while I’m on vacation and pray that it’s not floating dead at the surface when I return. It’s a mess of stories, advice, and digital musings with no real consistency. What it lacks in focus, it makes up for in wordiness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to flush this fish down the toilet and start fresh. I’m merely going to work on improving as I move forward. I’ve got some gems in the archives, but I reckon this ol’ barn needs a fresh coat of paint (see what I did there? Since I changed the design? har-har).

So, I will try to blog more. I will break up text with images. I will categorize, tag, and organize to my heart’s content. I will try to make it more concise just because I care about your straining eyes as you read through my 500+ word posts. But instead of promising that I will do all of these things, I will take it with baby steps.

Improvement is a learning process. And while I’m gagging myself with a spoon as I bring myself to an ultimate low point of quoting a Kardashian, her words ring true:

“Don’t wait until New Years to make changes in your life. You’re capable of doing that every day.”

Thanks Kim, for your monotone words of wisdom. With that, I’ll end my 486 word blog post…Baby steps.

What They Don’t Tell You About Being A Post-Graduate

Fall is here. Leaves crunch under eager footsteps as campus buzzes with wistful excitement…Or at least that is what I would imagine it’s like, based on most teenage movies I’ve seen about college.

Although I started my job in July, it didn’t hit me that I’m officially a member of the “real world” until September. For the first time in my life, I traded in my perfectly calculated class schedule that allowed for sleeping in and 3 day weekends, for a 6 AM office commute. “Oh, THE HORROR!” you’re thinking.

There’s a lot of misconceptions about what it’s like to be a post-graduate. Most college students live in fear that as soon as they get their diploma, the world ends in a terrible meteor explosion and they spend the rest of their lives droning on in the eternal hell known as “work”.

Now, I’m not claiming to be an instant know-it-all about post graduate life. It’s only been 3 months since I finished school. But I’m here to debunk some of the myths. My commencement speech left me bright eyed and dreamy when reality doesn’t always have the same plans. I’m here to tell it to you straight, based on my own personal experience.

The Slight Post-Graduate Depression

You return home to your parents house with your tail in between your legs, and begin the sad, lonely process of unpacking as you realize that your days of college independence are in fact, gone forever. Or, if you’re like me it’s three months later and you still haven’t unpacked.

Regardless, you spend a lot of time watching pointless TV shows, wasting the days away eating Taco Bell and loathing every person younger than you who still gets to attend school as you bask in your own misery. Maybe you’ll polish up your resume, maybe you’ll send a few emails here and there…But you really just don’t feel like doing ANYTHING. Including your dishes, so lay off, Mom!

Put down the phone and don’t call the psychiatric ward yet – this whole “depressed, jobless post-graduate” thing only lasts for a little while.

I read a book that helped me get through it called Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. The book discusses how humans are wired to constantly think about the future and if we’re not living up to our expectations, we get depressed. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because guilt keeps us motivated.

However, don’t let it dictate your daily life. Get out there and enjoy yourself because for the first (and maybe only time) in your life, you don’t have any obligations to anything. Travel, explore, and wander – even if it’s in your own neighborhood. You’ll be surprised to discover things you always used to look over.

Getting a job is HARD.

For some reason, people (especially adults) are under the impression that getting a job right out of school is like putting a tooth under your pillow and waking up to find the tooth fairy visited. The reality of it is that getting a job right after school is extremely difficult. It takes a lot of rejection and a lot of days wondering if you’ll ever survive in the real world.

Unfortunately, most people won’t take you seriously because you’re young. At the same time, you’re somewhat naive to think that you know what you’re doing just because you graduated recently. There’s a lot that you only learn when you experience it first hand. People above you have been through those experiences. You may think your idea is the best thing since sliced bread. You may think you know everything about the digital world because you grew up with technology. The truth is, you have only scratched the surface.

…But don’t get discouraged. 

The good news is, it’s still okay to learn. And there are always people willing to help you.

Just because you graduated, doesn’t mean that you have to know all of the answers to everything. You don’t have to find a job or do what anyone tells you. You’ll actually find yourself caring less and less about what people think of you. You’re still young, and now is your time to make mistakes, sort them out and live your life.

Be patient and stop worrying.

I’m a true believer in the idea that being nice to people pays off. Think about it – are you more likely to help the car that cut you off right before the exit, or the one with the “honk if you love puppies” bumper sticker that slowly edged in and gave you a polite wave as you let them into your lane?

I call this theory “practical luck”. I was extremely lucky to get a job one month after graduation. The stars aligned and everything worked out for me. But that’s not to say that I didn’t work hard to lead up to that moment. I was lucky when the situation arose, but I was also prepared to shine in that interview because I had worked hard to get to that point. Getting a job does come down to luck, but remember that you also have the power to decide your fate. If you want something, figure out what steps you need to get there. Then, be patient and let the universe work in your favor.

So, what’s the “real world” really like?

To be honest, I was terrified to graduate. I wanted to stay in my fun bubble of social parties, fake advertising campaigns, and occasional classes forever. I didn’t want to say goodbye to friends leaving for different destinations across the globe.

As you get older, you develop more obligations and you have to remind yourself to have fun more often. They never tell you how hard it’s going to be to land a job or pretend like you know what you’re talking about when you’re going over bank statements and withholding taxes. The hangovers are also brutal. But the world doesn’t end.

Having a job doesn’t mean you’re tied with a shackle to some unforgiving life of excel spreadsheets. And if it does, then maybe it’s time for a career change. One of my favorite parts about post-graduate life is seeing how bright the future is for everyone. It’s really rewarding to see all of my friends hard work pay off when they excitedly tell me about their new job or their adventures overseas.

The truth is, the real world is not all that bad.

Coping with Jokes

“You need more writing pieces,” they said. “Something that really shows who you are, and what your writing style is like.”

I smiled, nodded, and excused myself to go slam my head against a hard concrete surface somewhere.

I’ve written many poems, short stories, and dumb essays discussing the symbolism in Holden Caufield’s red hat. But I’m far too self-conscious to ever showcase my personal writing (well, aside from this blog when I actually have a purpose).

“No one would ever want to read my emo poems or strange short stories that make no sense,” self-conscious me said to myself.

So, I created a solution.

A wise, drug-induced character from a movie once said:
“Never take it seriously. If you never take it seriously, you never get hurt. If you never get hurt, you always have fun.”

Similarly, I cope with my feelings by making everything into a joke. And thus, a blog was born.

Check out my new blog Coping with Jokes: Sarcastic Poems of the Self-Conscious.

You’ll probably hate it, but I don’t care (actually I do…). Just kidding, I dont! (I do).

A Week of Googling

This morning, I began my usual morning routine of surfing the internet before any forms of human interaction. My life is sad and embarrassing in that the internet is the first thing I turn to when I wake up, but I digress…

Much to my parent’s dismay and complete disapproval, I’ve recently decided that I desperately need a puppy in my life. I spent all last night and all this morning google searching puppies, adoption, and the like.

How could you say no to that face??

Don’t fret mom and dad, I won’t actually buy a puppy because I know I’m too irresponsible and poor for the time being BUT the whole situation reminded me of the 2009 Google Superbowl commercial that brought me to tears, and still remains one of my favorites.

The cursor blinks. The piano cues. The typing begins, and we’re transported into a beautiful love story via Google searches.

What do my Google searches say about me? I decided to investigate. I went through my browser history for the past week and recorded all of my recent Google searches:

SUNDAY March 4, 2012

Puppies. Adopting puppies. Hipping urban dictionary. Schiperke. New York City. Stuff to do in New York City. Weiner dog. Dachshund. Puppies. Adopt Dogs Eugene. Baby Animals. Oregon Humane Society. Puppies. Mutt Ad agency. Rush Limbaugh. Draw Something app. Multifaceted definition. Creative week New York.

SATURDAY March 3, 2012

Swedish meatball recipe. Facebook. Twitter. Facebook. San Francisco. Jobs in San Francisco. W+K. What agency did JCP rebrand. JCP Ad agency. Wieden Kennedy. Ad agencies. List of Ad Agencies in San Francisco. Tribal San Francisco. Ad Age. Top ad agencies. Best agencies to work for.

FRIDAY March 2, 2012

Morningside Inn New York. Manhattan New York. #FB. XO Urban Dictionary. Wiz Khalifa Amber Rose. Shakira Attacked by Sea Lion. Writing Manifestos

THURSDAY March 1, 2012

Grammar Effects vs Affects. Cliche. Well known Cliches. Adding slideshow to cargo website. How to add keynote to cargo website. Hulu. Watching TV online. Oregon Ducks Basketball Score 3/1/12. Sleeping problems? Identifying sleeping issues. Insomnia. Lack of sleep. How to sleep.

WEDNESDAY February 29, 2012

Leap Day. Hostels New york city. Snooki Baby. 30 Rock Leap Day episode. Usher new song climax.

TUESDAY February 28, 2012

(**Note: I was working on a class project this day – I swear I’m not a creep looking up underwear!)

Awkward gifts. Underwear. Awkward underwear gift. gifts. Bad gift to receive. Worst gift ever. Giftiki. Gum. Gumball machine. Dynamic vs static advertising. What do you want a large amount of. Whatsoever a word? Falsetto. YOLO. American Idol finalists. Attitude. Outlandish. Synonyms attitude. Irks. The Rock

MONDAY February 27, 2012

sex and the city cw new show? originality. Roosevelt hotel New York. Sex and the city episodes. Craig Smith blazers. Ohio School Shooting. Stop the Violence program. University of Oregon. School of Journalism and Communication UO.

So, clearly my life is not as romantic as the commercial, but I found it fascinating to see what my searches say about me (besides the fact that I’m a neurotic insomniac that desperately needs the unconditional love of a puppy and relies on urban dictionary for street credentials).

I noticed that Google searches truly have an archival aspect to them. Most of the things I searched were relevant to my life at the moment. For example, I will travel to New York in May and most searches related to the trip. On Wednesday, I worked on a project that caused me to search for strange things like “underwear gifts” (I swear, your honor, it was for learning purposes!). My numerous searches of puppy adoptions also hint at the fact that I tend to impulse buy…

I also found it interesting that I searched for websites on Google instead of going to the website URL. Instead of typing in “Hulu.com” or “Facebook.com,” I googled it. It seems strange to think about now, but while in the moment, it seemed like second nature to type it into Google rather than a URL.

I noticed that instead of saying “I searched for it”, I automatically say “Google it”. Google has turned into a verb, and  completely consumed our idea of online searches.

Now, a life without Google seems almost impossible to me. I use it even for the simplest searches. I think my dependence on Google has a lot to say about the shifts in our culture.

I’m not sure if this new “search culture” is a good thing or a bad thing. It may be good that we can easily access copious amounts of information with a simple search, but has it made us too impatient to discover answers on our own? I get easily frustrated when I can’t find a quick answer on Google. I’ve become dependent on Google for many aspects of my life, from finding restaurant phone numbers to navigating streets.

How will this affect the way we learn and behave in the future? What would happen if Google ever shut down (cue horror movie screams and visions of apocalypse)?

Until then, I’ll just focus on googling puppies and maybe someday finding a parisian love of my own.

This is Trey, the puppy I wanted to adopt after hours of Google searching

UPDATE: I’m not the only one!

The Curse of the “Forevernet”

Ughh...That horrible awkward stage. Note the Hollister jacket...

The year is 2002, and I am a freshly pimpled preteen whose main concerns in life are popularity and overpriced Abercrombie ripped jeans. Due to my desperation for acceptance, I decided to attend the local high school football game. Like most middle schoolers, I grazed the outside of the track and spent each quarter gossiping, not actually watching the game. It was at this very football game that my crush (who shall remain nameless) asked out one of my best friends.

Pure. Devastation. 

Of course, at this exact moment it started to rain, and I was left alone on the track with tears welling in my eyes. Straight out of a teen movie — How Cliche.

Immediately, I went home, locked myself in my room, and began blasting emo Evanescence songs. Suffering from my recent heartbreak, I decided to write terrible poems about the situation because let’s face it, MY LIFE WAS RUINED!!! This is where the problem arises…

Remember, the year is 2002. The internet was now an increasingly popular resource among my generation. I spent all of my time on AOL Instant Messenger and the act of sharing every last detail of my life developed into an innate evolutionary trait. Unlike my previous years of furious diary writing, my innermost thoughts were now poured into my Livejournal.

This is what I like to call the “Curse of the Forevernet”. Being part of a generation that was old enough to use the internet but young enough to be completely irresponsible with it left me with a curse. Don’t believe me? One word: MYSPACE.

I spent many years carelessly posting and sharing content that reflects my naivety. I’m not the first person who survived puberty, but the problem is that my experience is more public than the generations before me. I’ve tried my best to delete my accounts, but what is posted on the internet is circulating the inter-webs FOR ETERNITY. My immaturity is now forever embedded on some server, somewhere in the world. I didn’t realize that when I was younger.

See? Why did I ever think this was okay? It's embarrassing.

Now that I’m “older and wiser” (that’s in quotes because I’m still young and stupid) I wish that I could delete all history of 6th-9th grade. I was always told to be careful what you post, but as a typical preteen lacking frontal lobes, when did I ever think about my actions before I did anything?

Luckily, I was a very well-behaved young cherub who never broke rules, so nothing I posted was too outrageous. Yet, I would be absolutely mortified if anyone ever found a shred of my emotional turmoils of middle school yesteryear. Now I can laugh at my embarrassing past, but there’s still a darker side that reminds me it’s all still out there, somewhere.

To this day, I’m still surprised with some of my friends that unmindfully post things that probably shouldn’t be publicly shared. This isn’t to say I’m not guilty; we’re not all perfect. I’m sure I’ve shared some things recently that may not provide any meaningful value towards my future.

However, my point is that my generation has a cross to bear. We grew up using the internet without questioning it, and as a result we need to be more careful about the way we represent ourselves. It’s okay to be yourself and let your personality shine through — just make sure it’s the personality that you want the world to see for many, many years to come.

New Year, New Resolutions

I started biting my nails in sixth grade. I saw my sister biting her nails at the dinner table and I was mesmerized by how it must be what all of the cool teens did. Naturally, I wanted to be a cool teen someday, and so I began to bite nails. She has since kicked the habit, but I have been unable to stop my gnawing. My typical New Year’s resolution is to stop biting my nails. As you probably assumed, my nail beds still suffer from my incessant chewing. I tried everything from slapping myself with a rubber band when I bit my nails, to coating my nails in that special polish that makes your mouth bitter for hours. Nothing worked.

New Years resolutions have never been my strong suit. Like many in the blogosphere, I decided to start off my newest blog by discussing my goals for 2012.  However, I’ve yet to accomplish or complete any the goals that I set out for myself.

But this year, I have high hopes. What I realized is that my goals were always too vague and grandiose. Instead of focusing on “I want to lose weight” or “I want to stop biting my nails,” I decided to focus on small ways to improve my daily life.

That’s what resolutions are all about, right? Self-improvement. But the only way that you can improve is to change bad lifestyle habits. And the only way to change habits is by taking it one small step at a time. Otherwise, the goals will become too overwhelming, and it is too hard to measure progress. By improving my daily life, I hope to improve my overall life.

Aside from everyone’s goal of surviving the impending apocalypse/end of the world in 2012, this is what I resolved to do and why:

1. 20 crunches and 5 push-ups everyday, no excuses. 

Yes, the numbers are low. Most people I told this resolution to laughed at me and asked, “Why only 20? Why not do 100 a day?”. The answer is simple: I know I will do it. It’s easy to say that I could do 100 crunches a day. But sometimes, life gets in the way. Recently, I went on vacation and I was busy all day. I barely had time to fit in a phone call home, let alone do my crunches. If I had a daunting number, I would have pushed it aside and thought “it’s alright if I just skip one day”.

However, one day leads to two days, which leads to two months, which leads to my usual disappointment in my lack of goal completion. As I explained earlier, if you want to change your lifestyle habits, it needs to be in small steps. So, laugh all you want at my small numbers. But when I can outrun the zombies and explosions at the end of the world, we’ll see who is laughing then.

I went a little crazy and purchased a shake weight, along with other work out equipment

2. Make meals for myself

Like most non-celebrity humans, I would like to be healthier and richer. My plan is to slim the bod and fatten the wallet by making meals for myself. For the past few months, I got into the habit of eating out a lot because I was either too lazy or too busy to make food for myself. I’m not alone: on average, Americans spend 5.6% of their income on eating out.

But I don’t want to do this goal just because it is healthier and cheaper. The real reason I want to make meals for myself is because I love to cook. Another realization I had about resolutions is that if you do something that you love, it will be easier to continue with it.

Instead of focusing on a goal for the wrong reasons (i.e. I want to make meals because its healthier), centralize on a way to make the goal a positive thing (i.e. I want to make meals because I love to cook). When you shift away from something you have to do into something you want to do, it will be easier to accomplish.

3. Write down one positive thing and one thing that I am grateful for

This is the resolution that I am the most proud of, except I can’t take all of the credit for it. I was with some friends at dinner, and we each went around and said our resolutions.While most of ours were along the lines of my two previous resolutions, one of my friends caught me off guard by simply saying “I want to have a more positive outlook on life”. I was really impressed by her as she explained that simply changing the way you think, changes the way you live.

It’s a wonderful and true point — our mentality has a lot to do with how we live our life. If you want a happier life, all it takes is changing the way you view the world.

To make sure that I follow through with this, I decided that each day I will write down one positive thing that happened to me, and one thing that I am grateful for. There are so many things to be thankful for, so I think this will be the most rewarding goal to look back on as I enter 2013. If the world doesn’t end, of course…

What are your New Years Resolutions?

25. Deb’s Life Class

“Feelings are always purest and most glowing in the hour of farewell.” –Jean Paul Richter

It’s hard to believe that this is the end of my creative strategist class. I remember the first day I sat in those yellow lambourghini seats in the Jaqua center, nervous and excited about what was to come. Now, those same feelings linger in the pit of my stomach but for different reasons.

It’s not often in life that I feel utterly inspired. Deb’s class gave me that opportunity every single Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. Before her class, I had never recognized the sheer talent of the peers that surround me. I had never cried in a lecture hall. I had never felt that I could do something that would contribute meaning to the world.

As one student pointed out, “I never knew that I signed up for a life class.”That’s exactly what it is: a life class. My entire life, I’ve been so accustomed to attending classes solely because it’s part of the next steps. You go to school, you get a degree, you get a job, you live a happy life.  That’s what is supposed to happen.

But I didn’t realize that sometimes it’s about more than just school. Sometimes the best lessons that you learn come from the inspiring people around you. We were so fortunate to have speakers who taught us unforgettable lessons.

As Deb said in her last lecture, “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75”

Never stop learning. Never stop living. 

I want to take the time to give a sincere thank you to everyone who was a part of the creative strategist experience with me. Thank you to Deb, for everything. Thank you to all of the incredible speakers who generously took the time out of their day to give us insight. It’s been an experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

I am learning all the time.  The tombstone will be my diploma. –Eartha Kitt

Without further ado, here is the link to my portfolio: www.kelseywilkins.com

 

24. Finding Your Passion

As the year winds down to an end, I took some time to reflect on all of the lessons that I’ve learned throughout this term. I flipped through my notebook, and one of the things that struck me was the difference in my notes from class to class. Most of my notes seem to be the average copying of slides. However, in one particular class, all of the notes seem to be a frenzy of inspiration and engagement. You guessed it, it’s the notes from my creative strategist class.

To show you what I’m talking about, this is what my notes from Economics look like:

Bore-snorezville.

Now, here are my notes from Creative Strategist:

Kathy Hepinstall's Lecture

Tracy Wong's Lecture (Sorry for the profanity -- blame him!)

My notes from creative strategist clearly show a higher level of engagement. I can tell just by looking that I care about that subject the most. After studying my notes for a while, I think the difference between each school subject reflects the difference in my passion.

Advertising is something I am passionate about. It’s a huge aspect of my identity; it’s what makes me happy.

I love how it feels to complete a project I worked hard on. I love when it feels like I made meaningful work, and contributed something to the world. Collaborating ideas with others for a purpose is something that I truly enjoy. I love the friends that I’ve made through my advertising journey.

It’s hard sometimes. Often I feel like I’m not good enough, or that I’ll never make it. But it’s that passion that gets me through it.

I feel pretty fortunate in that for me, finding my passion was pretty easy. Strangely enough, advertising always has been my passion, and (hopefully) it always will be. I know some people struggle to figure out what it is that makes them tick. Some people get stuck in the rut of going through the motions of life because it’s easier or more secure. But if you never unleash your potential, you will never be fully satisfied.

Success should not be defined by the amount of money you make. It can only be defined by your happiness. Deep down, everyone has a passion that drives them — it’s what keeps us sane. Find something that makes you truly happy, and start living.

23. Clean The Toilets

I’ve learned some pretty important lessons in life.

People first.

Always be thankful for what you have.

Kindness, generosity and optimism can sometimes get you farther than any skills you learn in school

Flossing your teeth actually does matter

Yet, one of the lessons that still sticks with me is one that I learned in high school.

When I tell people from Oregon that I went to Jesuit high school, most of the time I receive reactions along the lines of:

“Oh…you went to JESUIT!?” // “So, you’re a private school snob?” // “Don’t you guys recruit?”

It’s alright. I know that Jesuit has a reputation of prissy private school snobs who always win in sports. I’ve dealt with it for years of my life, and now it doesn’t bother me if people generalize me based on my high school education. Why? Because regardless of their opinions, I know that the lessons I learned there shaped who I am today.

This post isn’t meant to say that Jesuit is better than any school out there; there are plenty of great schools graced with teachers who encourage you and help you succeed. It’s not always a fit for everyone — each person has their own niche, and Jesuit isn’t always that place. Rather, I want to talk about how thankful I am for the opportunities for growth that Jesuit provided me with.

The first day of my junior year in high school, I was late to class. Living thirty minutes away from school, I got caught in rush hour traffic. I’m a person who is always on time, so this was a traumatic morning for me. I stumbled in late to the classroom, and took the first open seat, trying to avoid the sneering whispers of my classmates.

Clean the toilets.” my teacher said.

I looked around the classroom. Everyone else was just as confused as I was.

Clean the toilets.” she said again.

Still, nothing.

She smiled and went into a long story about the years she volunteered in the Altiplano region of Chile. I wish I remembered all of the details but in my years out of high school, it’s become a little fuzzy. While she was there, each volunteer was assigned a task. You were able to sign up for the task that you wished: hanging laundry, serving the meals, washing the dishes.

No one wanted to clean the toilets. No one ever wants to clean the toilets. It means getting on your hands and knees, and scrubbing until you feel like you’re about to break. It means getting your hands dirty. It’s not pleasant, and it is hard work.

Cleaning the toilets means doing the job that no one wants to do.

It means owning up to your responsibility, and completing it because you know it’s right. It means helping because you know that it will benefit others.

In life, there will always be times when you don’t want to do something. There are times when things are hard, and it’s much easier to turn the other cheek. There are times when you are faced with a challenge and you’re not sure if you have what it takes to make it through. Times when you just don’t know if you can do it anymore.

This is when you need to clean the toilets.

Do the job that no one wants to do because if you don’t, who will?

I’ll never be able to express my sincere gratitude to Ms. Kathleen Myers. Sometimes you don’t know the impact that you have on people, but the lessons I learned in that class changed my life, and forever changed the way that I view the world. I hope that by sharing this story, I can acknowledge my appreciation for the education that I am so fortunate to have.

Life is full of lessons — but to learn those lessons, sometimes you need to clean the toilets.