Caipirinhas, Portuguese Phrases and 4 Other Things I’ve Learned in Brazil

 

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Seven short days ago, I had never seen land outside of the United States. I often joked with others that the closest I had come to leaving the country was wading in the waters of southern Florida.

Nevertheless, today I can proudly say that I’ve (finally) left my home country and begun to experience life and culture outside of my comfort zone. I’ve tasted the caipirinhas, the Brazilian national drink – which, by the way, is nothing but pure sugar, limes and alcohol – learned a few phrases in Portuguese and been abandoned by my Uber a time or two already.

There are so many things that I could say about my trip so far – despite the fact that it’s only been a mere five days since I boarded my flight for Brazil, but still, I feel as if I’ve already learned and experienced so much. So, to give you a glimpse of my life here as a pseudo-Brazilian, here are a few things that I’ve learned while in Brazil:

1. The media tends to hype up the negative and downplay the positive

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The picture I took from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio near sunset. We rode cable cars up to the top of the mountain. This shot really embodies how beautiful the city is – a mix of both mountains, city and ocean. Christ the Redeemer can also be seen in the background.

I won’t lie to you, prior to leaving for Brazil, I was scared out of my mind. For months leading up to my trip, all I heard about were all of the negative aspects of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Each time I informed someone I would be visiting Rio, I opened an unwanted can of worms, listening to them ramble on and on about a city they had never traveled to, and things they probably didn’t know about. I was even frequently told, “Rio should have never hosted the Olympics.” Way to encourage my trip, I would think…

However, despite harsh criticism, I made my way to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, and (not) to my surprise, it’s been great so far. A few day into the Olympics, and I’m hoping that the media is starting to refocus their energy on yet another great Olympics.

2. People outside of the United States tend to be a whole lot nicer than us

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My friend, Allison, and myself with a Canadian man we met trading pins with at the Olympic Park in Rio. He had been to countless Olympics throughout the years and told us he likes to take pictures with the people he trades pins with so that he can remember them.

I could go on an endless rant about this topic. When non-citizens visit the United States, people often scoff and ridicule visitors who visit our country who cannot speak our language. Yet, as Americans, we visit other countries and get upset when they can’t speak the same language as us (even though we’re in their country).

However, what I’ve seen in Brazil is that any person who speaks English is eager to help translate. On several instances, Brazilians have seen me struggling to communicate with a person and came up to translate. A few days ago, I was at Christ the Redeemer and ordering a drink from the bartender. We were having a lot of difficulty communicating due to our language barrier, and a woman came up and stayed until I had pay just to make sure I was able to communicate with the bartender. That was something I thought was so incredible and kind that I do not think would happen necessarily in the United States.

3. Opportunity is everywhere

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At the Coca Cola center in the Olympic Park, I had the opportunity to hold one of the official Olympic torches. It’s not every day that this happens.

Walking around Rio, I have learned that opportunity really is everywhere. From all of the people I have randomly met at the Olympic venues – even learning that one person I coincidentally met taught at the school district only 20 minutes away from me – to holding an Olympic torch to attending the International Paralympic Committee press conference, I have already been given so many opportunities while here in Rio – both professionally and personally.

I believe that life is simply a series of choices and, sometimes, we have to create our own opportunity. However, you don’t always have to travel 5,000 miles away from home like I did. Sometimes, the best opportunities are right on your doorstep.

4. Traveling teaches us that the world is much smaller than we think

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My fellow students and I with a middle school teacher we met from Westfield, Ind. We just happened upon her at the Olympic Park while watching the Men’s Gymnastics Event on Saturday, August 6, 2016.

Whenever I think about the physical size of the world, I am mesmerized. I am even more mesmerized when I realize how many people are in this world. But what is truly even more amazing is the fact that no matter where you are in the world, there is a great chance that you’ll meet someone you have a connection to.

Already while in Brazil, I have met countless people from the United States – which should be of no surprise considering I am currently at the Olympics, the largest athletic event in the world. However, when I met Kelly Day, a middle school teacher from just the town over from me, I was so astonished that I so coincidentally happened upon someone who lives so close to me. Not only is it a reminder that the world really is smaller than we all think it is, but it is also a good reminder of home – no matter how far away I am.

How I see my future: As told by an almost 22-year-old college senior

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As I realized my final summer break was coming to a close, I began thinking about everything that I’ve accomplished this summer and past year- but also, everything I have to look forward to in the future. In such a short amount of time, I think I’ve had an epiphany of sorts (but we’ll get to that later).

When 2016 started, I was not a happy camper. I wasn’t excited about entering the year that I turn 22 (still not excited) and I was in the midst of what I called my “mid-life crisis”. With graduation only a year out, I wasn’t really sure where I saw myself post-graduation and if I was even ready to enter a new chapter in my life. After all, I was comfortable in the one that I was in.

However, a few things happened that changed my outlook on the future.

First, a professor encouraged me to consider working at an agency post-graduation. After spending time in her class, she told me she thought I would be cut out for that type of work. I can’t thank her enough for the encouragement. You see, at this point in the year I was feeling conflicted about what I wanted to do career-wise. I hadn’t been seeking her advice on careers, I had actually been there to talk about a group project I was feeling dissatisfied with. That’s when she took time out to get to know me and offered those words of advice.

So, the advice of my professor led me to apply to a few PR agencies for the summer. After interviewing and praying that something would work out so that I wouldn’t have to do something I hated all summer long, I was offered a full-time summer internship with Dittoe Public Relations.

If you’ve spoken with me in the past few months, you probably know that I loved my internship. In my three months there, I learned more than I had ever learned in a classroom. I was getting real-world experience and working with real clients, under some great mentors. It was by far the greatest experience I could have asked for and then so much more.

Now, as I leave my internship to finish my senior year of college, I feel like I’m ready to see a chapter in my life close and a new one start. Although the future is filled with so many uncertainties, I feel certain that I picked the right career choice for me, which is a very rewarding feeling. I’m one of the few lucky college students who never once changed majors. I came in as a public relations major, and out I will go.

Nonetheless, I am excited to get back to school and spend my final year in school with my friends and enjoying one last year of “freedom”. I am also excited to get back to school and be reunited with my sorority. I will also be finishing out my second term as chapter president, and I can’t wait to participate in recruitment, knowing that the sisters we recruit will be the ones who will one day be in the same shoes as I am.

Lastly, my summer isn’t quite over yet – I am about to embark on a very exciting journey. On Tuesday, I will be heading out (on a very long flight) to Rio de Janiero, Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics. This will be my first time out of the country and I couldn’t be more excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

So, future I’m ready for you and not quite as scared as I used to be.

21 certainties every twentysomething should know

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When it comes to being a twentysomething, I don’t think anyone has it figured out. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning, let alone what my plan for post-graduation is. All I know is that Thursday night $2 double wells at Brothers is far more worth is than its Saturday night $5 counterpart–despite only a $3 difference. Hey, a college student’s gotta eat, ya know? That extra $3 can almost get me my favorite $4 meal at Wendy’s. I’m going to spare every cent I can.

Regardless, I did my best to come up with a few certainties that all us twentysomethings should know.

1. No one really has it all figured out, no matter what they might say.

And that’s okay. We’ll get to that when we turn 30.

2. It’s all going to work out.

I mean, when was the last time it didn’t? Life always has a funny way of working itself out.

3. No matter what your self esteem tells you, this is probably the best you’re ever going to look – so embrace it.

4. Standing on a scale every morning probably isn’t going to get you anywhere.

We all want to lose a few pounds. So, either be proactive or stop obsessing over something that isn’t going to make you feel any better (trust me, this one is easier said than done).

5. Don’t confine your life to a definitive plan.

Life is amazing, wonderful and also unpredictable. So plan for the worst, hope for the best, but don’t force your life to follow a strict path you set for yourself when you were 19.

6. Laying in bed until 4 p.m. and binge watching your favorite Netflix series isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So what if you didn’t get dressed today and spent most of the day laying in bed, watching Netflix and reeling from your hangover from last night? One day when you’re a real adult with a family and responsibilities you won’t be able to do that anymore. Enjoy it while you can.

7. Your twenties are the most wide-reaching and vast decade of you life. Don’t compare where your at in this decade with where others are at – not all of life’s big moments happen for everyone at the same time.

Some people are married at twenty with a kid on the way, while others may be 29 and still looking for that certain someone. Others graduate on a strict 4-year plan, while some may take a little longer. Don’t compare where you’re at with where someone else is at, just as long as you are taking the appropriate steps to do something meaningful with your life and working hard at it. After all, that’s about all we can really do.

8. Saying no to a new opportunity may be more damaging than you may think.

Just don’t say no. You never know what that door may lead to.

9. It’s okay to date around.

It doesn’t make you a bad person. Just be careful about who you let into your life.

10. Speaking of bad people, don’t be afraid to cut toxic ones out of your life.

11. Being alone doesn’t mean that you are lonely.

Spending time by yourself can teach you more than you think. Don’t be afraid to go out to eat, see a movie or volunteer alone. Just because you do things alone sometimes doesn’t mean that you are a lonely person – it actually means that you are comfortable with who you are, on your own.

12. Drinking can be fun, but it can also be dangerous, too.

Go out, spend time with friends and have fun. But err on the side of caution. Have a game plan to get home – never get behind the wheel after drinking, even if you “feel fine”. Implement a buddy system with your friends – don’t wander off on your own, especially in an unfamiliar place. And never be afraid to take a drink away from a friend if it’s becoming a hazard to her health. They’ll forgive you in the morning.

13. Settling will never be worth it.

Don’t settle for the significant other who makes you feel just okay and not incredible. Don’t settle for a job that you like but don’t love. Don’t compromise your dreams, ethics and values for someone or something that just aren’t worth it.

14. Mom & dad will (almost) always be right.

And we hate that about them.

15. You’ll regret rushing through life. Enjoy each moment while you can.

16. Taking care of your body at twenty is far more important than you think.

Don’t forget to brush your teeth, quit bad habits and regularly schedule doctors appointments. Don’t take your health for granted just because your young, and don’t purposefully ignore good health practices – trust me, older you will be glad you took care of yourself while you were young.

17. Carefree > Careless

Go with the flow, enjoy life’s little moments. But don’t purposefully be stupid and end up in a bad situation.

18. Choosing passion over paycheck will be worth it.

If you’re going to have to spend the next fifty years doing something, make sure you don’t dread going into work each morning. The average American spends over 109,000 hours at work in their lifetime. Try to make those hours at least worthwhile and stimulating.

19. Never underestimate the power of a kind word, positive thought and a nightly prayer.

20. Happy thoughts will create a happy life.

21. Without a doubt, your twenties will be some of your favorite years. So, make the most of them while you still can.

 

So, you wanna be on TV? And 5 other questions I get about PR

If someone were to ask me, “did you pick the right major?” I would immediately respond, “yes!” I guess I am fortunate being one of the few lucky college students who didn’t change their major once in four years. I came in as a Public Relations major, and out I will go as a PR grad.

One of the most difficult parts of being a PR major, however, is dealing with the constant confusion that surrounds it. Here are some of the most common questions I get when I tell people that I am in public relations.

So you want to be on TV, huh? 

I get this question more than you would think. No, I gently tell them, I don’t want to be on television. If I did, I would have most likely majored in telecommunications or journalism, something of that nature. When it comes to public relations, my job is to get my client on TV, not myself. Not to mention, becoming a TV anchor is definitely not in my top 10 career choices.

What do you want to do with that? 

Also a very common question I receive when I tell people that I am a public relations major. When someone asks what I want to do with PR, I want to snidely respond with, “Well, public relations”. Yes, as shocking as it is, I want to do public relations with my public relations degree. To be fair, I think people ask me this question because they don’t actually know what PR is and they are hoping that I explain it to them. Of course, there are a few different avenues you can take with this, but still, I don’t think my response is too harsh.

Oh, like Samantha from Sex and the City?

Granted, Sex and the City is one of my all-time favorite TV shows and my name is Samantha. However, this isn’t exactly correct. While what Samantha does is technically public relations, like all TV shows, it does not portray the profession realistically. Besides, Samantha does PR mostly for individuals–and those who are famous. The PR that I want to do (and what I think is most common) is PR for organizations and businesses and is all about getting media coverage to enhance the organization’s exposure and brand awareness/knowledge. Samantha is awesome, but don’t think of her as the greatest example of PR that’s out there.

So you like to talk a lot then?

While this is extremely applicable to myself, I wouldn’t say that this is true of all Public Relations professionals. While communication is certainly a key aspect of PR, I don’t think that it is everything. I do firmly believe that someone quieter or more reserved could thrive in public relations–especially with technology and communication being the way that it is today. Like I’ve said before, people don’t fully understand public relations and what all it entails. People truly believe that all you do is “talk”. Which brings me to my next question…

So, basically you’ll get paid to just talk all day?

Not really sure why I’ve gotten this question as many times as I have. I honestly don’t think there is any job in the world where you simply “talk” all day–and I have no idea why people think this is what public relations is, because it is so much more than that. Not only is PR about building a reputation and increasing public awareness of an organization/company/individual, but there is a lot of research and critical thinking that goes into it as well. Public relations professionals spend countless hours researching journalists to pitch stories to just to be turned down. We incorporate design, writing, research and communication to create knowledge about a client, despite the fact that PR isn’t always as quantitative or measurable in ways that our similar-but-also-different cousins, marketing and advertising, are.

Oh, good for you

The response that I get most often because it is easier for people to pretend like they know what PR is than to ask me any of the above questions.

 

Year-End Review: Junior Edition

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Cue the water works because I officially only have one year left as a college student. The past three years have been incredible and filled with so much love, happiness and success. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the university I chose to attend and all of the memories and experiences it has provided me with. It’s hard to believe that I’m now at a place where I am writing my third year-end review post (check out Year-End Review Freshman Year and Year-End Review: Sophomore Year). Still, I am thankful that I have roughly 365 days before the water works really begin and I have a quarter-life crises. I say it every year, but I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me this time around. Each year just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter. I truly know that “There are far better things ahead that any we leave behind” (my favorite C.S. Lewis quote).

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August: In August I celebrated (obviously) the single most important event of my junior year: my 21st birthday. Or, as I affectionately call it, the last of my exciting birthdays. My birthday happened to fall on the first day of classes of junior year, which was quite the experience, but I was so thankful that so many of my wonderful friends and sorority sisters came out on a Monday night to celebrate my birthday with me. Also in August, I worked again as a Welcome Week Leader, assisting freshman with their move-in and transition to Ball State. Although this month was not monumental in any way, shape or form other than my birthday, it was a great start to my junior year and set the foundation for everything that was going to happen this year.

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September:  My first memory of the month of September was spending all of Labor Day weekend watching my favorite trilogy: The Dark Knight. It was not a productive weekend to say the least, but it was obviously time well spent for me. Nonetheless, September was an interesting month. It was crazy busy (per usual) with recruitment, Bid Day, the Alzheimer’s Walk, and the camping Sisterhood Retreat. It wasn’t the month that I had envisioned in more ways than one , but I was incredibly thankful for the wonderful support of my friends. My proudest moment of this month was planning and implementing Bid Day 2015. After a long summer of preparation, crafting and several nightmares, it was a great experience and I was so incredibly happy to welcome 52 amazing new members into Sigma Kappa.

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October: In October, my parents took me to Las Vegas to celebrate my 21st birthday and my mom’s 50th over my Fall Break. This was hands down one of the best trips I have ever been on. Vegas was such a cool experience and something that I hope everyone can see at least once in their lifetime. From the strip and all of it’s bright lights to Hoover Dam, it was a fantastic trip. Also in October, I was honored at the CCIM (College of Communications, Information, and Media) Dean’s List Ceremony for the second time and celebrated Ball State Family Weekend tailgating with my parents. I also attended my sorority’s Sponto dance and dressed up as a really adorable Bubble Gum machine for Halloween (picking 1 picture for each month is proving more and more difficult for me). For as long as I can remember, October has always been my favorite month and it’s easy for me to see why.

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November: Hands down, the most exciting event of this month was being elected to President of the Gamma Eta Chapter of Sigma Kappa in November 2015. It was a position that I had been working towards since my freshman year and I was so thankful for all of my sisters for believing in me and voting me into this position. Also in November, I attended my sorority formal and as always, had a wonderful time with great friends. However, other than being elected President, my favorite part of this month had to have been Thanksgiving break. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, and not just for the food. I love the simplicity of the holiday. It’s all about love and family, without expecting any presents in return (other than the food, of course) and naturally I overate and spent the remainder of the day wallowing over the pain in my stomach. I did enjoy watching “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” with my family, the new Thanksgiving tradition we started in 2014. Although long and at times painful, I did enjoy an 8-hour car ride with my dad to pick up my sister from Chicago and bring her all of the way back home to Indianapolis.

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December: Ah, the month of Christmas. This is one of my favorites. I definitely enjoyed my much-needed break while I was off of school and work for the Christmas vacation. Although the weather was disappointingly warm this year, it didn’t stop me from getting into the Christmas spirit. Winter break was surprisingly exciting and time consuming for me, versus the usual laziness I ensue. I visited Christmas at the Zoo for the first time with a friend and it was incredible (I plan on going back), I tried chocolate martini’s with my parents and hated them (won’t be doing that again) and I was able to spend a lot of time with friends back home. For Christmas, I was most excited about my Crock Pot and Erin Condren planner so that’s when I knew I was becoming an adult.

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January: To start off the year right, I got dressed up and spend New Year’s Eve downtown with some of my girlfriends. Since it was my first NYE being of age, I was excited to do something fun–and it was definitely an experience. My favorite part would probably have to be making friends with all of the different Uber drivers we had throughout the night. Also in January, I tried ice skating for the first time in about seven years. Although I was terrified and could barely move on the ice at first, to my surprise, I wasn’t half bad and shocker–actually enjoyed it! January turned out to be a very busy yet rewarding month. Getting back to Ball State and to my friends was great after nearly a month a part. I also enjoyed a trip to Chicago with my fellow Sigma Kappa Executive Council members for the Regional Leadership Conference, despite the fact that there was no way our bus driver had a real driver’s license, as we nearly crashed multiple times. Thankful to have made it out of that one.

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February: It’s a miracle I spelled this month right, as it is hands down the hardest word in the English dictionary for me to spell. From here on out, I will probably just refer to it as “this month”. So, here are some highlights from “this month”: after countless months of eager waiting, I finally welcomed two of my best friends into the 21 club. Now, most of my close friends were able to go to the bars with me. I celebrated a few holidays including Valentine’s Day (with a huge blizzard at DQ for the occasion) and of course, Mardi Gras. Also the Superbowl, if you count that as a holiday (which is definitely is). We welcomed 9 new members into Sigma Kappa as our spring new member class.

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March: By the time March rolled around, it was finally time for Spring Break. Alongside 3 of my sorority sisters, we traveled to Orlando, Florida. My favorite moment of that trip was visiting Universal Studios. There was one roller coast in particular that I was terrified of riding, but it turned out to be one of the most fun things I have ever been on. The fun didn’t stop after we got back from Spring Break, though. For the first time in my collegiate experience, I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. This turned out to be one of my favorite moments of junior year for several reasons. I think one of my favorite parts of this was walking to get Chinese food with my friend Erica, and then coming back to take a nap in her bed, despite the fact that it was not even 8 p.m. My best friend Megan made a trip down from Purdue one weekend and I loved being able to catch up with her. I welcomed my newest little into my Greek family, Rachel, and we quickly became close friends (I’m already so thankful for her friendship). Lastly, I celebrated Easter back home with my family and was surprised by my sister, Allie, surprising us with a trip home that weekend.

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April: Besides October, April is typically one of my favorite months. This month started out with my sorority raising $5,500 for Alzheimer’s at our annual philanthropy event, Battle of the Sexes. I’m always so proud to be apart of such an incredible organization with an event more incredible cause. I was honored with the opportunity to attend the recolonization of the Tau Chapter of Sigma Kappa at Indiana University this month as well. Seeing 170 women initiated is something that I will never forget. I attended both of my sorority’s social events and had a great time, as always, with great friends. Towards the end of the month, I was honored to be a recipient of the Oliver C. Bumb Cardinal Corps Scholarship. Cardinal Corps has provided me with several opportunities to get involved and meet new people on campus and this scholarship has made me even more excited for my senior year at Ball State. I was also inducted into the nation’s oldest journalism honorary, Kappa Tau Alpha. Without a doubt, it’s been an overwhelming and stressful semester, but it has also been filled with so much happiness and fond memories. I’m excited to begin my summer internship with Dittoe PR and to travel to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janiero, Brazil. Here goes nothing!

 

Dealing with Those Who Dislike You

Today, I read a quote that really resonated with me.

“The way people treat you is a statement about who they are as a human being. It’s not a statement about you.”

Of course, I realize that not everyone you encounter in life is going to like you. Sometimes, it’s within reason. Maybe you hurt them, spoke an unkind word about them, or you simply do not get along. It could even be a feeling of mutual dislike between one another.

However, everyone once in awhile, we encounter another human being who just simply does not like us. It doesn’t matter how hard we try, how nice we are, or what we say to them. They simply do not like us.

I believe that this is one of the hardest things to cope with. I don’t think anyone likes hearing that someone dislikes them. It belittles us and makes us feel incompetent, unworthy, and insecure. It makes us question other relationships in our lives and we begin to reevaluate everything that we say and do.

Still, what another person thinks or says about us has very little to do with who we actually are as individuals. I think this is what resonated with me the most in the above quote. If someone speaks poorly about you, that’s on them. It has nothing to do with you. Typically, it is nothing more than a reflection of their underlying insecurity. After all, what would be the point of being so cruel to another person if you were confident in yourself?

“But I say  to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” -Matthew 5:44

Another quote that has always been a backbone to me is Matthew 5:44. I think that it is such a powerful Bible verse and quite frankly, sometimes unimaginable in today’s society. Loving people who hates you? That doesn’t seem right, with society’s obsession over revenge and whatnot. But it’s an important lesson. We should pray and wish for nothing but the best for those who dislike us, as there is not a worst thing you can have in your heart other than hate. I think that we can all agree that in times when we are so filled with rage and anger, it sometimes physically pains us. It definitely consumes us. And how much better is life when we are positive, happy, and filled with hope?

I have learned on this day that we will not always be able to please everyone. Along the way, we will run into people who only want to tear us down. The best thing that we can do is to remain confident in ourselves, and let those types of people continue with their hate, hoping that one day they will no longer feel the need to hurt others to make themselves feel better. The world is filled with so much hate, but I am going to focus on filling it with love.

Confession: I’m single but still love Valentine’s Day

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I’ll be the first to admit that when I first saw Dairy Queen was offering a “Single’s Blizzard”, I immediately texted my girlfriends and lined up a date to eat the sweet treat. If you know me, you also know how I feel about ice cream. My summers typically consist of 4-5 ice cream trips a week. It’s sort of a problem. Still, this dessert enticed me because of it’s connection to all the other single, ice cream-loving people like me.

Lately, I have become a strong advocate in the “modern Valentine’s Day”, once that encompasses celebrating all types of love–including the love you have for your family, friends and of course, yourself. I still have a lot of love for the world around me and the people in it, regardless of what my current Facebook relationship status happens to be.

As it just so happens, Valentine’s Day happens to be one of my favorite days of the year. Maybe it’s just a made up holiday to entice consumers to spend more money, but I can’t help but love every single thing about it. I love all the chocolate, pink and red and the dozens of pretty flowers. I’m a sucker for consumer holidays.

On a deeper note, if you know me, you probably also know that I’m a big advocate for self-love and practicing high self-esteem. It might sound a little odd to say “practicing high self-esteem”, but I really think that you have to “practice” it. Self-esteem, to me, is completely psychological. You have to get yourself in that right mindset. I truly believe your life becomes infinitely better when you learn to love yourself (as Justin Bieber would say, also I might have made that bad joke in my last blog post as well).

So, put a note on your mirror reminding yourself that you’re beautiful and buy yourself a box of chocolates. No matter what your relationship status is, make sure the people around you know that you love them, too. Valentine’s Day only comes once a year, so enjoy it while you can instead of moping around in misery. So, Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, you know where to find me (at DQ).

 

 

How Being a Leader Can Also Be Really, Really Hard

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Recently, I started thinking about ethics and leadership. Maybe it was the New Member Meeting I just led with the same name (funny how those things work out) or maybe it has just been the accumulation of life’s events. Whatever it may be, I have learned that being a leader and doing the right thing is (arguably) infinitely more difficult than to do something wrong.

You see, being a leader takes a lot of work and a lot of self confidence. How easy is it to just turn the other cheek and allow wrongdoings to be done? It is even harder to stand up for your values, especially when you are around your friends and your peers. You do not want to be known as the snitch or the person who is always selling others out.

But for me, I have always considered myself to be highly interested in leadership. Maybe I haven’t always been a leader, but I knew I always wanted to be one, whatever that meant. I have also always been known to be a rule follower. My parents have joked numerous times that I’m an old soul. I specifically remember being in elementary school and kids telling me to do something they “triple dog dared me” (which apparently meant you HAD to) and me replying with “no” because that dare didn’t carry any weight with me. You see, I have always been the type of person who likes to follow the rules and who likes to be known as a leader, but even then it has been really difficult for me to always stand up for what is right, or to do the right thing.

The thing is, at the end of the day, you have to be able to carry out actions that you can live with. I have learned that the wrong decisions or choices I have made have affected me extremely more than the right ones. They always carry heavy on my conscience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a saint. I don’t want to be known as one. However, I know that in the long run, bad choices are going to affect us and hurt us more.

That is what I think being a leader means… it means not always making the right choices, but knowing when you have messed up. It means admitting that you are wrong and that you are not perfect. It means accepting defeat sometimes, and asking from help from those around you. But the most important thing is that you are proud of yourself and happy with who you are.

Why Being 21 & Selfish Is (Sorta) Okay

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They say your twenties are your “selfish years”.

Those years when you can focus on what is best for you, and no one else. They say, these are the years when you can explore new opportunities and focus your energy on figuring out who you want to be and what you want to do.

Now, when I say “selfish” I don’t mean it how you are probably thinking. I am not talking about ignoring others and only focusing on self involved interests. I mean it like these are the years when it is okay if you do not have everything figured it out. These are the years when it is okay to make lots of mistakes and to pick up the crumbling pieces afterwards. It is the time to create long lasting memories but also a time to take risks.

If you have read my blog before, then you know this is similar to what I talk about in a lot of my other posts. As a twentysomething herself, I oftentimes write about life from the view of a woman in her twenties. I talk a lot about being afraid of the future and of the importance of discovering who you are as a person. However, these are all things I firmly believe in. I have a lot of things figured out in life, but trust me when I say I do not have everything figured out. There are days when I consume entire boxes of mozzarella sticks for dinner, and other nights when I forego all responsibilities to spend the night at the bars with my friends instead of staying inside to study.

But I also realize that I will not be able to always do these sorts of things. One day, I will (hopefully) have a husband and children to take care of. No longer will I be able to spend countless hours watching Netflix in bed. I will also have a deteriorating metabolism and mozzarella sticks will not be the preferred choice of food. I will also have a full-time job and a reasonably early alarm, therefore bars on a Tuesday night will not be okay.

I guess what I am getting at, is that your twenties are a time to embrace life. Take new chances and go on adventures. Stay up a little too late hanging out with friends because they live five minutes down the street from you, and one day they will be thousands of miles away. This is the time to try out a new hobby or to go on a blind date because you have nothing to lose. Most importantly, these are the times where it is okay to do something because you want to or to focus on yourself wholeheartedly. I know I still have nine years left to be considered a twentysomething, but I have decided that I want to focus on today and the now, because tomorrow it will be gone.

Remembering Grandpa: The Disease that Took Him Away

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My grandpa was always that person who would talk your ear off for hours about essentially nothing. He was a Korea/Vietnam veteran, and probably the most proud at that. Growing up, I couldn’t even tell you how many army stories he rambled on to me about. It wasn’t just me either. He would talk to anyone who would listen. I’ll never forget the time he ordered me and my cousins pizzas and then spent what felt like forever on the front porch telling the delivery man all about his war days. We used to joke that the poor guy probably got fired for taking too long with the delivery. Nonetheless, he was proud that he had fought for our country. It was an incredible honor for him to have served as Command Sargent Major, and I was always proud of him for that.

Looking back now, I wish I had spent more time listening to him tell these stories, no matter how boring they may have gotten. I wish as a teenager I had realized how limited my time with him was.

As only a sophomore in high school, he began to change. Slowly, dementia took the grandpa I knew away. He was no longer talkative and barely remembered who I was. Sometimes we would laugh at his forgetfulness, but for the most part, it was painful knowing that I would never get the man I knew back. Eventually, I began to adjust to his changes. He lived with Alzheimer’s for four years before passing away in March of 2015. When he passed away, I struggled with losing him because it had felt like I had lost him a long time ago. It was comforting knowing that he would now be reunited with my grandma and that he could finally go to a place where he didn’t have to suffer anymore.

One of the most difficult things about loving someone with Alzheimer’s is trying to remember them as the person they were before the disease. I have a lot of great memories with my grandpa. We spent countless summers camping in the trailer my grandparents owned. He taught me lots of things, like how to fish and throw a baseball. My grandma and him were married for 61 years, and I always admired them for that. He may be gone now, but that doesn’t mean we have to forget the amazing man that he was.

Every 67 seconds, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It is an awful, terrible disease. The hard part is, it takes your loved ones away from you years before they actually pass away. What I wouldn’t give to have those last four years back with the grandpa I remember. Or to have taken in every moment with him when I was younger. Although I won’t what took him away, for it now is a cause close to my heart. I will also choose to remember him as the man he was and not as the disease that changed him.

This year, as I walk in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Kokomo for the third year in a row with my Sigma Kappa sisters, I will be holding a purple flower, rather than a yellow one, signifying that my loved one with Alzheimer’s has passed away. In his memory, I hope to raise money for the walk. Please help me out by donating to my Walk to End Alz Page!