Thursday, April 20, 2017

6 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Settling For Anything Short of Happiness

Whether it's your career, a relationship, a place to live, or anything else, there is no reason to settle. For anything. Ever. So, forget about it.

All too often, especially as women, we believe settling is the only option. Buy, why? In my experiences I have found that some women settle because being "picky" may make us seem ungrateful or "bitchy" (excuse my language). Because asking for that raise, for more, for anything that is not given to us is rude, right?... Wrong.

In reality, doing those things just means you're self-assured — as you damn well should be, girl. I don't care who you are: you have every right to be confident in yourself and all you are capable of accomplishing.

Of course, though, there are things and times in life where you have no other choice but to settle and that's okay. Right now in my life, for example, I could paint you a picture of my dream apartment in New York City with flower pots on the front stoop, a balcony, high ceilings, spacious rooms, a brand new kitchen, overlooking Central Park (I could keep going...), but no matter how hard I imagine it, it's just not feasible right now.

No, but in all seriousness, NYC is a fabulous place with equally (sometimes) fabulous people. It's genuinely a world of its own and I am so grateful to be able to work in a place with such life — it literally never sleeps.

But, since graduating in May 2016, I have slowly wondered whether or not that "dream apartment" I just described is actually my dream. I know it once was, but after actually living here, I don't love it as much as I thought I would. Don't get me wrong, I love Manhattan, but I don't love living in it.

At least for the last year it hasn't quite felt like "home" to me. While "home" in college was found in the friends by whom I was constantly surrounded, I did not have that constant community afterward, so I realized "home," when I am not constantly surrounded by those people who I grew to know and love, is the sound of crickets at night, a lawn of grass, a deck to sit on and read, dogs to cuddle, and bubbles in which to bathe. [[At least for now, until I eventually decide I want the city again. Because if I'm honest I'll probably want to hop back and forth until I'm ready to settle down somewhere]].

So in the last week, as my lease nears its end, I made a big decision: I am moving back to Connecticut after my lease is up on June 1 and eventually commuting to work in Manhattan from there.

How did I come to this decision? Well, it certainly wasn't easy. Here are the questions I asked myself before deciding, the same ones you should ask yourself before settling for anything short of happiness:

1. Does this choice make me happy?

If the answer to this one is no, you can stop here, because chances are if you choose the option that makes you unhappy, you're settling.

2. Can I do better?

This question is important because if you think you can do better, chances are you can. Decide what makes you happy and whether or not your choice is it. Will you be happier at home than in New York City? Will you be excited to go to work every day? Make a list of pros and cons for each, then decide!

3. What is my end goal or dream?

Figure out your end goal (woah, this is a huge ask, I know). Note: there likely won't be a straight and narrow path to this destination, so don't be too set on painting a roadmap for your journey. You'll likely go off-roading.

4. Is this bringing me closer to that destination?

Ask yourself, will this person/place/thing be part of that destination? If not, will it be a stepping stone to help me get there one day? If the answer is yes to one of these, you are most likely making the right choice for you right now. If the answer is no to both, it may be a waste of your time and/or a distraction. *That being said, taking detours in life is part of the fun, so if the answer is "maybe" to one of these, defer to question 1— if it will make you happy, go for it. Life's short!

5. Am I making this choice for me or for someone else?

As difficult as this one may be, never make a decision based off of how others may feel or view it. Unless, of course, it goes against the Golden Rule — like, please don't use this as your pass to punch someone in the face and then be like, "well The Sprinkle said to not make a choice based on how others will feel." No. What I mean is simply make the choices that help you move forward in your life.

6. Am I doing this because it's easy or because it's what I want?

The easy route always seems more appealing, yes, but never take the easy route unless it's genuinely the one that will make you happy (and not just because it's easy). Trust me, good things come to those who 1) are patient, 2) hustle, and 3) never give up.


6 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Settling For Anything Short of Happiness
What are some questions you ask yourself before making a difficult decision? Is there one thing on which you will never settle?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Want to Be a Writer? 9 Young Journalists Get Real & Share Their Best Advice

I did not always know I wanted to be a writer. Don't get me wrong, I always knew I enjoyed writing but determining what exactly you want to do for the rest of your life... literally every day... is not as simple as "I think I want to be a writer."

Honestly, it wasn't even until I had a few internships that I fully realized writing was something out of which I could build a career.

Today, with more than 430 writing samples and counting, it's safe to say I am a writer — how strange does that sound? Truth be told though, I would not be where I am today without the internships I had, the outlets which graciously published my pieces when I was just beginning, and the incredible people I met along the way.

My best advice? Accept every opportunity that comes your way and when opportunities don't present themselves, make your own with the help of the people you meet throughout the journey.

I was lucky enough to meet incredible mentors and peers each place I went, seven of whom got real about their advice for both aspiring and current writers.

1. "It's always better to have done the interview, gone to the event, or pitched the story than to have not. I try to remind myself of this when there's an event I don't feel like attending or an interview I can't immediately use. Always better to have at least tried/experienced something than to be left wondering... [And] if you're having trouble getting something out, pretend you're writing an email to a friend. It's get it down/out. You can polish later." - Maggie McGrath, "Forbes"

2. "Don't be afraid to let the little quirks of your voice shine through in your writing. Especially with digital writing, it's so easy to be a cookie-cutter copy of anything that's out there, but it's more important to stay true to your own unique voice." - Mara Santilli, "Shape"

3. "Say yes to everything that comes your way and don't be afraid to ask to contribute or be involved in something. The worst that could happen is they say 'no,' but the goal is to get as much experience as you can. Even the smallest tasks can lead to new responsibilities or networking opportunities. Also, you will probably mess up at some point — literally everyone will — but it's all about taking it in stride, learning from your mistakes, and not letting it deter you." - Jinnie Chua, In Public Safety

4. "Never hesitate to put pen to paper when you're feeling inspired. It doesn't matter if your idea isn't fully formed, just give yourself the space to write. Rewriting will come later, but letting the creative energy flow is the best part of the process." - Kristin Magaldi, MTV

5. "Don't take anything too personally. Writing is a creative outlet and by nature personal, but that doesn't mean criticism or edits should be." Michelle Guerrere, Freelance Writer

6. "Critique is crucial for growth. So don't be aggressive, be receptive." - Laurise McMillan, Refinery29

7. "I've always been told to 'write what you know,' and I've found this to be incredibly obvious yet valuable. Most simply, it means to write with intention, purpose, and conviction. You can't force great writing, and if you don't buy it, no one else will. Write with heart." - Rebecca Fenton, MAKERS

8. "We are experiencing a fantastic moment in time where everyone has the opportunity to be a published writer. That being said, it doesn't mean all writing is created equal. While there is a great deal of quality content, there is much more noise. In order to create something of value, you must create something unique. Start with discovering your voice. I had a teacher in grade school who told me to write without thinking too much about the words. Let your thoughts come across the paper, she'd say. It is in that creative process that you'll find your voice, which will probably sound similar to your speaking voice. You can edit from there. Don't try to be something you're not. It's okay if you're not funny. It's okay if you prefer more simplistic vocabulary. And it's okay if you don't follow the rules you were taught in school. The best creatives never follow rules anyway." - Emily Raleigh, Spire & Co.

9. "Make sure to create your own opportunities and follow your own path. Don't worry about someone else's journey because how it worked out for them may not work the same for you. Just stay focused and keep pushing!" - Brittaney Trent, Yahoo Style & Beauty

Do you have advice for aspiring writers? Comment below with your words of wisdom.