Long time no talk.

There are words coming soon, I promise. But for now– I’m in my last semester of grad school at NYU. If you could take this survey so I can graduate in December, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you! (Link below)

https://forms.gle/1WKsaJVZuBEoNGpK7

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2018.

I haven’t written a personal post on here in a very long time. But I’d like to say a few things about this year and who I am because of 2018.

2018 has been such a weird year. 2018 was The Year That Would Never End.

This year (after my summer internship ended), I spent two months not working. When I wasn’t applying to jobs and interviewing and doing homework for grad school, I was lying face down in my bed next to a jar of peanut butter that I was eating out of with a plastic knife, bemoaning my life (just to give you guys the visual).

This year, I got my heart broken. I’ve had a difficult time trusting people. I spent a lot of time being angry. I had to see and interact with my mother in person for the first time in a really long time, and had to face and quantify a lot of what she’s done and continues to do. Going back to Westchester became painful for me. One of my best friends moved across the country. I lost people who were really important.

BUT! (This is a big “but,” so it gets its own exclamation point/sentence fragment even though that’s not technically correct) This year, I got my dream internship. I moved to Brooklyn, which I’ve always wanted to do. I got my FIRST REAL JOB (with a 401(k)!). I won an incredible scholarship. I made amazing friends and became closer with a lot of amazing people. I reconnected with people who have/do matter a lot. My brother got married and I went to my very first wedding ever with some of my best friends. I continued my graduate program while I was interning/working. I took the best class I’ve ever taken and probably will ever take (Children’s Book Publishing. I mean, c’mon). I saw Panic! at the Disco at Madison Square Garden. I met Lin-Manuel Miranda and Rupi Kaur and former President Bill Clinton and Sarah Jessica Parker and Halle Berry and Michelle Wolf and Nelly from The Office. I read great books and saw great movies and went to great concerts. I spent a lot of time with people I love and who love me back. I learned about writing for public relations. I learned about writing social media copy for different companies. I learned I’m actually kind of good at that stuff (who knew?). According to Spotify, I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack for a total of 65 hours (And I just got into Hamilton in August… You see my problem).

This year, I wrote a LOT. (You’ll see.)

This year, I learned about the power of words… about the power of the Internet and the power of the connection that you can share with people through what you write and put out there (as long as what you put out there is genuine and real).

I learned I need to have more patience with myself and with other people. I learned it’s easier to believe in yourself when other people believe in you, too. I learned that I have a lot of love to give, but that I need to be careful who I give it to.

I learned that in order to grow, I have to be kind to myself. I have to remind myself of who I am and what I want and where I want to be, to be all of that and get there. This year I learned (after 10 internships lmao) I was ready for a real adult job.

I learned about letting go and forgiving people for their actions and how they treated me, and accepting apologies, and accepting people who are sorry who have hurt me in the past. I learned that letting go is really hard, and I learned how liberating it feels to finally be able to do it. I think (sometimes, depending) anger is wasted energy.

Because I also learned it’s okay to be angry when people hurt you. This year, I learned what it feels like to be really angry. I learned that some people never change, even though they like to think that they have/do to feel better about themselves. I learned people don’t like admitting they’re wrong. I learned that, with some people, I deserved a lot better than what I was being given.

Sometimes I wonder when I’ll be the age where I look at everything in my life and take it all in and be able to retroactively see how I changed, why something might have happened the way it did…

I’m 23, and I don’t think I’m old enough to be able to look at my life like that, in a big-picture sense. I can look at it and reflect and try to understand in small ways. For example, this blog post. For example, writing in general. Every day is a lesson in growing and learning about myself. I’m Amanda under construction, and I always have been, and I think I always will be.

2019, please be kind– I really need you to be.

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20 Things I Learned as Scholastic’s Corporate Communications Intern

 

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In December, I applied for Scholastic’s Winter/Spring 2018 Corporate Communications internship. I really, really wanted it.

I say I’ve wanted to work at Scholastic for a long time, and that’s true, but here’s why:

I want to work at Scholastic because they are the American publisher of Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, the Bone series, Dear Dumb Diary, A Bad Case of Stripes, The Invention of Hugo Cabret… All of these books that made an impact on me as a kid and as an adult, but also children everywhere.  Scholastic publishes a lot of books that matter, and books that matter to me and helped shape who I am as a person today.

I want to work at Scholastic because Scholastic cares about children’s literacy and children’s education—with their educational tools, book deals, and reading initiatives, they want children to have access to books and they want children to read. I think that education is the first step in creating opportunities and a better future for yourself and for others. Scholastic wants to help kids have access to education and books, and encourages them to engage in reading in whatever ways possible, whether that be through the Summer Reading Challenge, book fairs, Kids and Family Reading Reports, the Teacher and Principal School Reports, My Very Own Library, Scholastic Book Clubs, and the vast amount of other educational resources they provide. Seeing what I value reflected in what Scholastic values and actions made me want to work there even more.

I want to work at Scholastic because Scholastic values telling genuine and meaningful stories. In the last few years, Scholastic has put out books like George by Alex Gino and Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! by Marley Dias among many others. These books celebrate diversity and inspire kids in the best ways— showing them that it’s okay to be themselves and love who they are. And I love that. I read so many stories growing up with protagonists who looked just like me and grew up the same way I did and felt how I felt. I didn’t realize how much it means to see yourself reflected in stories—and how much it means to not see characters like you in literature, or to see characters like you in literature but represented in ways that aren’t realistic or nice. I see now that diversity in literature is so important and the books that Scholastic advocates for and publishes reflect that, and I want to help promote and publish books that tell real and diverse stories just like these.

Basically, I really wanted/want to work at Scholastic. And then Scholastic hired me. (!) And I spent four wonderful months as their corporate communications intern—learning about all of their education initiatives and literacy research and programs that promote reading and support librarians and educators and community partners across the country. I learned about writing for public relations, I learned about writing for social media and content marketing, and I learned about the trials and tribulations of working together towards a common goal.

Is this a cover letter? It’s starting to read to me like a cover letter. (@Scholastic: hire me)

The past few months have been such a wonderful experience. I felt like a valued member of the corp comm team (thank you Emily, Mike, Anne, Morgan, Stephanie S., Stephanie A., Stefany, Julia, Loribelle, Nicole, Mariana, Jo, Alex, Gina, Brittany, Suzanne, Karen, Deimosa, Jeremy, and Chris for making me feel that way)— working there not only affirmed everything I loved about Scholastic and books already, but it taught me about the Scholastic brand, the company’s divisions and its culture, and also allowed me to be a part of it all and showed me why everything Scholastic does matters.

Today is my last day at Scholastic, and I’m really sad to leave, but I know one day I’ll be back.

Here is a list of some of what I learned/practiced while working here:  

  1. When you’re supposed to maintain a professional voice in e-mails, and when it’s okay not to maintain a professional voice in e-mails.
  2. Research and evidenced-based conclusions from research are likely to inspire action and change.
    1. I had to study and analyze Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Reports over the past few years as well as their Teacher and Principal School Reports, and I’ve learned so much about how kids learn and read, as well as how educators get families engaged and encourage kids to read.
  3. I learned the distinctiveness of the Scholastic voice when writing social media copy. Also, writing social media copy is a lot harder than it looks.
  4. How much planning goes into a single event, and how to handle yourself and others at events.
    1. Also, how to gather people you don’t know and get them pumped up to take pictures for social media.
  5. All about Sprinklr as a content management and social media scheduling platform.
  6. Representation in stories is so important.
  7. When you don’t know something or you’re confused about a project, ask questions.
    1. Also, if you want to be included in something that you know is going on, ask to be included and be proactive about being included.
  8. How I might go about handling crises in a communications leadership role, while still staying on-brand.
  9. The stories/books you read as a kid have a huge impact on you as an adult.
  10. There are a few facets to corporate communications, like social media and publicity.
    1. I say this because corporate communications can mean different things at different companies.
  11. All about the “summer slide” and how/why kids don’t read over the summer, as well as the best ways to get them to read over the summer.
  12. How to write and send out pitches to news outlets and not be disappointed when I don’t hear back.
  13. I learned that it’s okay and encouraged to stay connected with the people you work with.  
  14. The process of writing press releases, and the necessary elements and format of a press release.
    1. I learned a lot about writing for public relations, and I’m grateful for the opportunities I was given to practice writing things that really matter.
  15. Along those lines—writing, writing well, and being able to write in all different styles and voices are really important skills to have. And it’s REALLY hard to learn and get used to.
  16. The importance of getting to know your coworkers, especially when you work on a big team.
  17. When building media lists, quality contacts matter more than the quantity of contacts you collect.
  18. Participating in staff meetings gets you noticed and is also helpful.
    1. Mike advised me to speak up at least once per staff meeting.
  19. Scholastic has a lot of different divisions, yet they all represent one brand under the big Scholastic umbrella.
  20. I need to stop apologizing so much.
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Revenue Analysis: The Cosmopolitan Magazine Brand

Here is another short paper I wrote for my magazine media class in New York University’s masters program, Publishing: Digital and Print Media. It discusses Cosmopolitan magazine (as a brand, and as a print and digital product) and how it generates revenue as well as suggestions for generating revenue in the future.


The official mission of Cosmopolitan magazine is “to empower fun, fearless females to own who they are and be who they want to be, no excuses, no bullshit, no regrets.”[1] Cosmo does this by generating content for their target audience of women ages 18-50 across many outlets, via a print magazine which comes out on a monthly basis, a website which is updated daily, an app which is updated monthly, as well as various social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, which are all updated daily. Cosmo has 64 international editions, is printed in 35 languages, and distributed in 110 countries.[2]

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According to WARC, the Cosmo brand generates revenue from its focus on digital, partnerships, as well as sales and advertising.[3] (Note: these observations/facts are not all encompassing, rather, they are the most important and prominent features of the brand.)

As for digital: Cosmo wants to build a community with their brand, and they do that mostly by promoting their own content digitally. By offering the ability to look at their magazine via an app on phones or tablets, they make their content accessible to all (although users do have to pay to view the magazine on the app). They regularly and frequently update their website: over 15 million people are subscribers.[4] By putting their content up on Instagram and Snapchat daily and by tweeting frequently, they successfully reach younger audiences who are more likely to engage through these interactive apps: For example, Cosmo posts on Snapchat an average of 14 times a day, with a 76% engagement rate.[5] They generate revenue digitally by exposing their audience to advertisements that sponsors pay for as well as making people subscribe and pay online to access their content.

As for partnerships: Cosmo frequently partners with celebrities, stylists, and media influencers like bloggers,[6] creating content that advertises and sells these celebrities, stylists, and media influencers’ personas and products, accurately reflecting the Cosmo brand, and generating revenue through clickable content. Specific examples include Fun, Fearless Female/Male of the Year, Bachelor of the Year, various articles, etc.

As for sales: Single copy sales dominate for Cosmo in comparison to other magazines, (Cosmo is one of the leading consumer magazines in the United States, ranking third in 2014 with single copy sales.[7]) including digital subscriptions. Over 3,000,000 people subscribe to and pay for Cosmo in its various forms.[8] As for advertising: Cosmo makes a significant amount of revenue through advertising: for example, a single full page color advertisement in its online or print edition is $335,200.[9] In 2013, they had a total of 461 ads of various sizes and colors in their online/print editions for the year.[10]

In terms of expanding its revenue, Cosmo might take ecommerce into account: in 2016, former editor-in-chief of Cosmo Joanna Coles stated that she wanted to open up ecommerce on Cosmo’s Snapchat account and allow users to buy products advertised in their magazine through the app.[11] While this hasn’t been developed yet, shopping tags on Instagram as well as Snapchat and their app might be beneficial to the brand as well as sponsors of the brand. They could start advertising and selling products on Instagram and Snapchat and their app with shopping tags, having sponsors/partners pay for their products to be featured and sold.

They might also consider pulling a Teen Vogue and eliminating the print version of Cosmo entirely: Last year, Cosmo reached 4.8 million unique visitors/month through their digital platforms, and while their print subscribers remain strong and steady, they’re in the hundred thousands and significantly fewer in number than digital subscribers.[12] Focusing on their digital platforms and eliminating the print versions would help them increase their online unique visitors and expand their digital options.

Lastly, Cosmo might want to utilize tailored marketing: as in, customizing the app and website to each individual digital subscriber. This will make it more likely for subscribers to engage and click on content. Before subscribing, they could take a quiz that determines what they most want to get out of Cosmo. Then when they use the app, they could see all the content and products and ads that, based on their individual quiz, Cosmo thinks they would most likely engage with.

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[1] http://www.cosmomediakit.com/r5/home.asp

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmopolitan_(magazine)#Awards_and_features

[3] https://www.warc.com/newsandopinion/news/cosmo_scores_with_new_business_model/36832

[4]http://www.cosmomediakit.com/r5/showkiosk.asp?listing_id=4785160&category_code=circ&category_id=27808

[5] https://www.warc.com/newsandopinion/news/cosmo_scores_with_new_business_model/36832

[6] http://www.cosmopolitan.com/partnerships/

[7] https://www.statista.com/statistics/197038/advertising-revenue-of-cosmopolitan-since-2006/

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmopolitan_(magazine)

[9]http://www.cosmomediakit.com/r5/showkiosk.asp?listing_id=4785162&category_code=rate&category_id=27809

[10] https://www.statista.com/statistics/197773/advertising-pages-in-cosmopolitan-since-2006/

[11] https://marketingland.com/cosmopolitan-editor-snapchat-discover-ecommerce-164911

[12] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/feb/11/cosmopolitan-magazine-overtakes-glamour-in-battle-of-glossies

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How the Amazon Kindle Dominates the eReading Industry and the Online Book Market

This is a short paper I wrote for my marketing class in New York University’s masters program, Publishing: Digital and Print Media, that I’m proud of. I thought it was relevant and I wanted to share.


“This isn’t a device, it’s a service,” said Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, regarding Amazon’s Kindle’s 2007 release. And a service it is— in a marketplace where e-books were difficult or trying to access/download to bulky, non-memory serving eReaders, Amazon’s Kindle is revolutionary. Its points of difference are that it is the size of a paperback book (7.5” x 5.3” x 0.7”), it’s easy to use, it has the storage for up to 200 e-books, turns on immediately when prompted, recharges in two hours and can be used for up to 30 hours, and has a built in wireless connection that can download e-books straight to the device. The prices of their e-books are also significantly lower than e-books sold on other eReaders.

Competitive eReaders/products in the marketplace (upon Kindle’s first release) included a Sony electronic reader (2006), and Rocket eBook (1998), among others. Now that also includes Barnes & Noble’s Nook, released in 2009, featuring enhanced screen lighting systems, up to 8GB of memory, LCD screens, and more. In 2012, Barnes & Noble’s Nook accounted for 13.4% of the global market for eReader sales, second only behind Amazon’s Kindle at 83%.[1] It also includes Apple’s iBooks, an application released on the iPad/iPhone in 2010, where users can download as many books as GB of memory their iPad/iPhone has, have the ability to change font and font sizes, and choose from varying screen layouts, among other features. Apple’s iBook app makes up for 10% of total e-book sales.[2]Other factors that came into play upon the Kindle’s initial release were online book sales from Barnes & Noble’s website, access to information and books online in places/sites/applications other than Google, as well as content formatting in PDFs and EPUB documents.

In terms of Barnes & Noble’s online website, consumers can order books, just like they can from Amazon, and have them shipped directly to their home. In 2007, barnesandnoble.com generated $476 million in revenue— making themselves a direct competitor to Amazon’s online books. However, while Barnes & Noble only sells books and book-related products, Amazon sells almost everything a consumer could possibly want. Barnes & Noble found it difficult to compete in e-book sales until they released the Nook. Despite that, they make ⅛ of the revenue Amazon does in eReader and e-book sales.

In terms of Google’s access to online and published content, Google had, when the Kindle came out, scanned millions of books onto their online database for public access. This directly competed with Amazon’s tactic of selling books online to consumers, rather than have them available for free. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google at the time, stressed access to uncopyrighted material for the public. However, their download system was flawed, and they ended up being sued by the Association of American Publishers and the Author’s Guild for copyright infringement. Ultimately, people consume content in many shapes and forms and through various mediums— whether that be print or online or on eReaders, and Google is not necessarily a direct competitor but just another way to do that.

In terms of formatting and accessibility, Adobe Systems used PDF formatting to help publishers preserve and maintain frontlist and backlist formatting and content in their own private systems. They modified their systems to accommodate eReaders, but shut that down eventually due to lack of success and revenue. In 2006, after Sony released their new electronic reader, Adobe Systems worked with the International Digital Publishing Forum to develop an e-book format called EPUB— formatting reflowable text as well as video and audio content on any eReader. This helped primarily with accessibility as well as formatting e-books on a variety of online but also on Adobe’s own eReader platforms. This contrasted directly with Amazon’s Kindle format, which was made specifically and only for the Kindle; Amazon has a tendency to be exclusive in its content sharing and formatting, as well as accessibility and sales.

Amazon’s goal with the Kindle was to ultimately create its own successful electronic book platform. When the Kindle first came out, Amazon maintained their strategy of keeping book prices as low as possible, enforcing cheap deals with publishers and supply chain partners. If publishers/supply chain partners did not comply, Amazon refused to sell/made it more difficult for consumers to buy their products on the Kindle.

Amazon’s positioning of the Kindle in the eReader marketplace was aimed at dominating the marketplace. Acquisitioning companies like Mobipocket (2005), Audible.com (2008), Shelfari (2008), and Abebooks (2008), they aimed to have access to as many e-reading/e-book resources as possible, as well as co-branding opportunities. This could also be considered integrative growth, because Amazon purchases and works with like businesses to help grow their own.

Co-branding was also utilized with Amazon the parent company, because the Digital Rights Management only allowed for e-books purchased on the Kindle to not be repurposed for other eReaders, Kindle can only be purchased from Amazon, and also provides access to Amazon’s website so the user can purchase more items/products from Amazon, thus maintaining Amazon’s brand community.

One of Amazon’s most important factors in designing and determining the utilization of the Kindle was the customer acquisition process. Amazon looked at their target market and target consumer behavior— readers in general and people buying eReaders alike. General literacy, book buying, and interest in literary fiction and nonfiction at the time of release was down. Steve Jobs, Apple’s former CEO, said about the Kindle: “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.” In a 2004 study, the National Education Association’s research proved a 10% decline in literary readers in the U.S. from 1982-2002, which doesn’t seem like much, but accounts for 20 million lost readers. Upon the release and growing popularity of eReaders, reading became, once again, much more mainstream. John Makinson, former CEO of Penguin before the Penguin Random House 2013 merger, said: “eReaders have become mainstream in the sense that they are a genuine consumer product for which there is real appetite, so this is not the province of geeks any longer.”

As mentioned before, Amazon’s goal with the release of the Kindle was to create a successful electronic book platform. Amazon has proved itself to be all-encompassing in online book and retail, as well as with eReaders and e-books. While they do have eReader product competitors, they still dominate in revenue, making eight times in revenue what their competitors make.

James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, said: “We want people to read. We don’t mind how they read.”[3] In terms of recommendations and how to take action in the future and for the future of Amazon and the Kindle, Amazon should carefully consider forming and how they form relationships with publishing companies. They should be more open and less exclusive with formatting techniques as well as comply or compromise when big publishing companies don’t go along with their terms. They are an industry giant, and because of this they have the freedom to use their power, and should use it wisely.

Amazon generates the most revenue and more people go to amazon.com and use Kindles than any other website and eReader available. However, in the best interest of the consumer and future customers, making the most and best content/books available from the best publishing companies is not only better for their business but also better for helping future customers make informed purchasing decisions. Their goal was to create a successful electronic reading platform— and they did that, but have to remember that they serve the consumer. In the future, they should think about what’s best for the reader/consumer vs. what’s best for them.

[1]http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/01/business/la-fi-microsoft-barnes-20120501

[2]http://authorearnings.com/report/february-2017/

[3]https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/apr/27/how-ebooks-lost-their-shine-kindles-look-clunky-unhip-

All other specific and data references are from the reading: eReading: Amazon’s Kindle by Bharat Anand, Peter Olson, and Mary Tripsas from the Harvard Business School. All bolded phrases are topics/situations discussed in class and related back to the case study.

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Amanda, Deconstructed

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On OCD

There are four main categories of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): checking, hoarding, contamination, and intrusive thoughts.

The type of obsessive compulsive disorder I have is not like the kind you see on television. The kind where you feel bugs crawling all over you if you don’t wash your hands a certain way, or where you have to count cracks in the sidewalk, or where everything has to be an even number (although I do prefer even to odd like any sane person).

The type of obsessive compulsive disorder I have leaves me with an inability to concentrate if everything isn’t immediately fine. If something slightly amiss happens with one of my friends, my worries keep me up at night until I’m tossing and turning and in a panic. If I’ve got something hanging over my head for more than a minute, my OCD makes it so I can’t eat or focus on anything until it’s fixed. This is what having intrusive thoughts is like, and I hate it.

Intrusive thoughts leave me overanalyzing, jumping from moment to moment, conclusion to conclusion faster than if my life depended on it, which it does, because if everything’s not okay then what’s the point, what am I doing, why am I doing it, why does she hate me, what did I do wrong, how can I be better, how can I make people like me, how can I make these people see that this isn’t really who I am, how can I be better how can I be better how can I be better?

The type of obsessive compulsive disorder I have is the kind that makes me pull out my hair follicles one by one in an attempt to distract/detract/delineate my worries. I used to have to take showers before I went to sleep otherwise I wouldn’t be able to at all. It has me picking at the skin on the knuckle of my thumb until it’s bleeding and raw. It has me fingering my ring over and over, a rough callus in place where the skin should be smooth. It’s the kind that makes me hurt myself so I don’t hurt others. It is not something that makes me feel beautiful or quirky or cool. It makes me embarrassed. It makes me ashamed.

I almost wish I had the kind where I wash my hands and count.

I don’t want it. I never asked for it. But it’s a part of me, and it’s mine.

On Anxiety

This is what having generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is like. This is how GAD feels.

It makes me feel like I can’t breathe– like someone is squeezing my chest, not very hard, but hard enough that it hurts and hard enough I can feel it every time I take a breath.

It makes my head ache– it makes my eyes heavy and watery and my shoulders sag and my hands sweat.

It makes me itchy– itch itch itch, like I have a place just out of reach I can’t scratch and I can’t get to no matter how hard or how much I try, and I can’t stop trying because it’s always there, itch itch itch, bothering me, sneaking up on me, always there.

It makes me panic— my heart racing, my fingers twitching, the world spinning. This is maybe the most obvious part. This is maybe the worst part.

It makes me doubt myself and doubt the people that care about me and that I care about and it hurts- oh man it hurts. And it itches and it aches and there’s nothing I can do except hold it in until I burst. It won’t go away since I’ve been here. It hasn’t gone away all summer. I’m afraid it’ll never go away. And I don’t want to play this game anymore.

On Depression

There is no acronym for depression for me. Depression just is.

Depression is heavy. It feels heavy. It forces you to stay in bed for hours at a time, thinking about nothing, thinking everything that’s wrong with your life, and feeling bad for yourself. It makes you disassociate and not recognize your own privilege and what you have that other people don’t. It makes you lose all motivation to try. It makes you lose all motivation to get out of bed. It makes you lose all motivation to reach out to people— to socialize, to reach out for help. It makes you lose all ambition. It makes you pity yourself. It makes you cry until you feel like you can’t cry anymore, but then what else are you supposed to do?

Depression comes in waves. And the waves are painful— they rise up and they take over and fall down over your head and press on your chest and your brain and everything that mattered to you before doesn’t matter anymore because what else could you possibly deal with right now other than this pain?

Spending time with people helps. Being busy helps.

It’s so hopeless, sometimes.

There are days when I just want to reach out for my dad’s hand and not let go and have him make it okay. He is my constant. My sister is the other. But you can’t put all of your feelings and all of your pain onto people. That is just not fair.

On Getting Better

Everyone’s got their shit. This is mine.

My junior year of college I decided it was time for me to get better. Things had gotten bad enough that I knew I needed to change now or I would get worse. I’ve gotten to that point a few times, and this was one of those times.

Full disclosure: I had seen a counselor in Ithaca a few times, and they were the ones that diagnosed me with OCD and GAD and depression (not necessarily in that order) which helped me understand myself and what was going on with me a little more. But the Ithaca College counseling and therapy program is so severely understaffed and poorly funded that there was only someone available to see me every 2 1/2 weeks. I saw the psychiatrist at school (it took me two months to make an appointment) and he prescribed me Zoloft, so I tried Zoloft. I tried Lexapro. I tried some other things he gave me, too. But they never really worked right for me, or how I thought they were supposed to. My junior year I was in a relationship with a boy who told me he didn’t like how I was when I was on antidepressants, and asked me to stop taking them. So I stopped taking them for a while for him, but that made things worse. I started talking to a psychologist off campus and met with her for a semester, but she just wasn’t a good match for me.

And when you’ve tried enough times and when it’s hard for you to try in the first place, sometimes it’s easier to just give up.

I think that the worst part about mental illness is the lack of control you feel when things feel bad. They say that happiness is a choice, but with mental illness I don’t think it is, and maybe that’s a controversial thing to say. Sometimes you can’t control how you feel. You just have to let it pass, or you have to talk to someone about it or you have to take medication or you have to do both but either way, all of those things help you reflect on it and learn from it so you can just let it pass.

Do you ever think sometimes that you aren’t meant to be happy? People always say that you are not your mental illness, but it always feels like the other way around for me. Without my anxiety, I wouldn’t talk as fast as I do.  I wouldn’t be so Type A, and that’s where most of my motivation and ambition and perfectionism comes from. Sometimes it helps, but a lot of the time it doesn’t. It feels hopeless— like I’m disappearing into my anxiety, depression, and OCD. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself when it gets really bad, and that scares me.

You have to want to get better. But sometimes I don’t even want to. Sometimes I do want to lay in bed, staring at the ceiling and commiserating. And sometimes I do want to be obsessively checking my phone to see if she/he texted me or snapchatted me back, and sometimes I do want to pick at my thumbs and shower constantly. These are my coping mechanisms. These are what I do to deal with how I feel. They’re not healthy, they just are.

People write about this stuff all the time online— saying that it’ll get better, and that things will be okay. Which is great! It’s so nice and supportive and encouraging! I’m sorry I’m not here to tell you or anyone that, as is probably evident from this post. I just want to know what to do when you’re just not okay.

I’m not writing this to make you feel bad for me. I’m not writing this for attention. I’m writing this to tell my story and experiences with mental illness thus far. I’m writing this because writing is another coping mechanism, another way to reflect on how I feel and who I am. Putting it out there in the world helps– it helps because I’m unapologetically like this and I know it and I don’t  care who knows and here it is, right here on my blog for you to read and see. I’m writing this because I’ve tried and I’m tired of trying and I’m still trying even if it doesn’t seem like I am.

And that’s all I have to say on this at the moment.

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Posted in Life Lessons | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Amanda Moves to the Big Apple

IMG_9325.jpgI have come home every day for the last three weeks exhausted. My feet aching, my ankles covered in blisters from shoes that I believed to be comfortable but have thus far betrayed me, my back damp from sweating on the subway platform and my hair frizzy from the humid city air. (Gross, I know. I’m a vision.)

Every time I make it home I feel relieved because I’m back in the safe haven that is my concrete basement apartment that seems to be perpetually a work in progress. But it is familiar and predictable, and for that, I am grateful.

New York City is not familiar and predictable. You could step in dog shit accidentally and not notice all day or miss an e-mail telling you not to come into the office until 11 when you woke up at 6 or be on the wrong subway for 20 minutes and not realize it. The city is not predictable, but my apartment is predictable. My apartment is slow-moving, and my roommate is loving and comforting, where the city is not. And I relish in those facts.

I graduated in May and all I’ve been thinking about all summer is how much I want to go back. Things were so much easier in college and I realize now that, while I did not take many of the professional and networking and classes for granted (I did pretty much all I could do and interned and worked nonstop. Yeah, this is a humble-brag), I definitely took the social aspect of college for granted, except maybe my last semester of college where I lived for going out on Thursday nights for karaoke.

In college, all your friends are right there, all the time. You could text your girl friend and ask her if she wanted to get a drink with you or watch a movie and she could say yes and then you’d both be at Viva, frozen margarita in hand, or splayed out on the couch in front of your roommate’s Apple TV in 10 minutes. 

In the city, hanging out with someone is an ordeal. You have to text someone hours, sometimes days in advance. You have to find somewhere to meet that’s in between where you both live/work or it’s a hassle for both of you. I work most days from 10 am-5 pm, so I can’t do really anything during the day. Classes at NYU start next week, so then I’ll be there doing that from 6:30-9 pm, and then the day is over and then I’m going to pass out from exhaustion and the hectic city work-class-sleep-repeat cycle will start all over.

I’ve been having not the easiest time mental health-wise here. I’m going to be honest– transitioning from Ithaca to Harlem has been HARD. Other than transitioning from living in Croton to living in Ithaca when I was 18 years old, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to live in the city. I always wanted to know the city like my dad knows it. The city has ENERGY. The city is ALIVE. There are always people doing things– moving, thinking, creating, living. The city is where all of the people who are doing the things that I want to be doing, working in book publishing, lived and thrived, and when I was a kid I would think all the time about how, one day, I was going to be one of them.

I have been here for almost a month, and I am learning that it is a lot harder to be one of those living and thriving people when New York keeps kicking my ass with its vastness and its unpredictability.

I have learned that I am terrible at dealing with change (but I kind of knew that already. Moving here has just reiterated that). And I have learned that New York is a really hard place to live. It toughens you up, and I was not a tough person to begin with. I am basically an uncooked noodle in the boiling pot of water that is New York. (I realize that that was a terrible visual comparison but I’m going to leave it anyway because now I’m rereading this blog post and cracking up.)

Here is what I’ve learned so far: New York makes you try. You can’t just exist here. You have to be actively existing– doing things to make money, better yourself, talk to people and find human connections. The city out there is scary, and I’ve learned that I have to dive right in, no toe dipping, diving, or I’m going to fail, and failing is not an option for me.

Classes at NYU start in a week and a half (!!), and I am scared out of my mind. I’ve heard that the professors and students in my program are really nice and supportive, which is encouraging. I know I’m going to have to dive in order to survive there, and I’m terrified about that. I have been feeling kind of defeated, but what I think I have to do is just get used to living here, toughen up a little bit and find where I belong, and everything will eventually fall into place.

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Posted in Things I've Learned in College | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments