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i found my voice…again

The only truly bad thing about getting paid to write is that something I have always enjoyed has turned into something I have to do. Budgeting time to turn everything in on time, following style rules of different publications, and being as professional as possible via email to make sure I get paid. I started tackling assignments with a mentality of “getting it over with,” a significant switch in mindset since I used to savor the time I spent working on this blog.

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My blog has always been a creative outlet. I can use as many Oxford commas and semi-colons as I want. And it’s gif galore up in here! The only opinion on this website is my own–though that sounds a lot more egotistic than I mean. For the second half of my American educational experience, my teachers consistently complimented my voice as a writer. I didn’t fully grasp what they meant at the time, but as I started peer-editing my classmates’ work and copy editing for the school paper, I started to understand. I want my writing to feel like a conversation. It is unpretentious, it should hopefully make you crack a smile. I like to think that if we met in person, my voice IRL would sound like the one that comes through here.

In churning out as much work as possible to make that $$$, I realized that I started cutting corners on authenticity, and my voice wasn’t as bright as it used to be. Thanks to some recent job changes on my part, I’ve had time to think about the kind of writer I want to be. And I sure as hell better be one with her own voice.

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why my phone makes me smile for 2 seconds every day

I’ve been having a very bittersweet couple of months. My work life has been fantastic, and I feel that I’ve had some incredible opportunities as a writer and a professional. I moved to a new apartment in a new neighborhood, which has been really great. I had two weeks off at the holidays to spend time with my family and hometown friends. I also got to visit my college BFF in Austin, a city I’d been dying to go to.

Conversely, some not-so-good things have taken place. My grandmother passed away a week before Christmas, so it was a hard time for my family. I’ve had dozens of job interviews, but haven’t received any offers (note: I’m quite happy at my current position, but am always looking for the next best thing). I’ve also been struggling to come to terms with parts of my personal/dating life–more on that here.

I make a conscious effort to be a happy person. I exercise primarily for the endorphins. I eat food that I like. I watch TV shows that make me laugh. I write about my feelings, both on this blog and in a journal. But all of my negative, depressing feelings surfaced the other day when I was sitting at my desk at work. My heart started beating super fast, and I felt panicked and overwhelmed–by existence as an adult, my quickly approaching first solo trip, the guy who won’t text me back, my constant questioning of past life choices. I texted my mom and she told me to go outside, get some fresh air, and stretch my legs. Combined with an iced coffee, her remedy worked.

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Later that day, I decided that I needed some kind of mental sticky note–something to remind me to be positive, that I am great, that everything is ok. While I was setting the alarm on my phone for the next morning, I had an idea to set a kind of self love reminder. I set it for 11:30am, on vibrate, labeled “You deserve the world. Everything is going to be ok.” It makes me smile everyday, and reminds me that focusing on myself is the most important thing I can do right now.

Follow new york is my boyfriend on instagram.

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5 things i learned after 5 months of freelancing

Even though I have a regular 9-5 job working at a magazine I’ve always admired, my side hustle has been especially lucrative lately. I’ve been doing a lot of freelance writing, simultaneously bulking up my portfolio as a writer and making some extra spending money. There’s something wonderfully appealing about freelancing…you can work from home (or anywhere in the world with an Internet connection), have flexibility with deadlines, and get to write about things that interest you.

I know some people do this full time–I’m not sure I ever could, since the money varies month to month, but so far it’s been a great way for me to profit from something I’m passionate about–and something I’d literally be doing for free, anyway (cue: this blog). Here are five things I’ve learned since stepping up my freelance game in June.

1. It will take forever to get paid.

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Between waiting for invoices to be approved and checks to go in the mail, expect to wait a month until you see payment for your story.

2. Keep track of EVERYTHING.

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I write for multiple sites, and it quickly became difficult to keep track of who had paid me and who I still needed to send invoices to. I use Google Sheets to keep track of every story I sell, and note within this document which pieces have been invoiced and paid.

3. Follow up.

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Editors are busy–you’re probably one of many writers they deal with, so if you don’t hear back for a few days, don’t take it personally. Don’t be afraid to follow up…especially if they owe you money.

4. Use a dedicated workspace.

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Some people are good at working from home, and while I like the idea very much, I’m not one of them–though that may change once it gets colder and I don’t want to leave my apartment. If I have an overwhelming amount of work to do, I take my laptop to a local coffee shop and stay there until the battery dies.

5. Pitch as many ideas as you have.

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I send dozens of pitches a week, knowing that only a handful will get picked up. I’ve learned that I have a better chance of getting more stories picked up if I pitch more in the first place!

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i’m not sorry

I’ve recently noticed a lot of Internet literature (like this and this) regarding the habit of over-apologizing that plagues millennial women. I’d always thought that in addition to being used for a formal apology, saying “sorry” was just a polite thing to do, even if you haven’t done anything wrong.

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I say sorry when I feel like I’m bothering my boss too much via email, when I really just want to make sure I’m doing things correctly. I say sorry when I ask the cashier to pack my groceries in a reusable shopping bag. I say sorry when a waiter brings me a regular Coke instead of diet, even though I know I ordered correctly. In reality, I shouldn’t be sorry for any of these things–my existence and my preferences aren’t an inconvenience.

“I think along with ‘I’m sorry’ comes the fluttering eyes and bad posture and maybe the raised shoulder as if to protect yourself from what’s coming. I’m asking women to own up to that, to stop saying they’re sorry, and to stand up straight and to look at people in the eye and be cool! Just be cool with yourself.” -Mika Brzezinski

I recently resolved to reduce the amount of airtime I give the word “sorry.” It’s been a difficult task–I usually don’t even realize when I say it, so I made sure to consciously avoid apologizing (unless, of course, I was in the wrong). Someone knocks on the bathroom door while you’re using it? There’s no need to apologize for occupying it. Don’t want to get drinks with a guy who keeps badgering you? You shouldn’t be sorry for not wanting to waste your time.

Here are some more things to stop apologizing for:

  1. Asking someone to clarify something.
  2. Someone else’s mistake…it’s not your fault if the barista at Starbucks gives you whole milk instead of skim, even if she makes it seem like it’s a major inconvenience.
  3.  Declining an invitation somewhere. Say “no, thank you” instead.
  4. Leaving work early or calling out sick (as long as you’re actually sick).
  5. Not knowing the answer to something.
  6. Asking someone to move over on the train so they only take up one seat instead of two, so you can sit down.

blair waldorf gif from giphy.

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