Saturday, February 2, 2013
Friday, February 1, 2013
As seen on PolicyMic here:
Twenty-something is a delicate age. There is nothing glamorous about being penniless, still not fully aware of who you are or where you’ll be tomorrow. Not to mention the awkward moments that, even in retrospect, make you cringe at their memory. Twenty-something is an age where best friendships are formed and destroyed, paths change with the direction of the wind, and it just seems like everyone is out to get you. But, when HBO released their new series, Girls, it finally seemed like someone got us. We aren’t searching for answers to all of our questions – we may be young, but we aren’t stupid enough to expect that. All we want is for someone to understand that this is a testing and transitional time for us boys and (especially) girls, and that we should be handled with great care. HBO’s Girls presented us with a voice of a generation. Our generation.
Each of the four girls on the show represents a vital part of the millennial woman’s make-up. A part that, often times, it is difficult to admit that we even have. That’s what makes the show such a wonderful experience. Each scene is so painfully similar to at least one experience we’ve had in our lives, it becomes uncomfortable to watch such raw human truths on screen. When we look at those girls on screen, a Coldplay song plays in our hearts. In a funny way, these four "girls" represent four different sides of our womanhood.
1) Hannah Horvath; Our Huge Mistakes
Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, makes huge mistakes. The type of mistakes that, when you are a spectator watching them on screen, are blaringly obvious. But, gnawing in the back of your mind, you know you’ve made a similar mistake. She is the hardest to watch because she embodies this swinging pendulum of self-consciousness and self-absorption. Her rather unorthodox sexual experiences are often highlighted in the show. They make us laugh, they make us close our eyes but, and in the end, they remind us that we, as millennials, are just trying to discover who we are both physically and emotionally. Hannah represents our potential for greatness that is stuck in the rut of feeling helpless because everyone around us is constantly telling us this is a dismal world. She is the heroine we want to succeed because her mistakes are ours, and her feelings mirror our own.
2) Marnie Michaels; Our Deception
Marnie is our deception. As twenty-something women we are expected to have this beautiful exterior with the most on-trend clothes and make-up that highlights our features just so. It’s often easy to forget that underneath the façade of youth and beauty is a young woman screaming in fear and uncertainty. Marnie pretends to be sure of herself, as we all do in an attempt to fool those around us into thinking we are okay. Well, sometimes we are simply not okay. We push away the people that love us most, we wallow in self-pity, we slam doors at other people’s (sexual) happiness. And that is perfectly fine! Marnie reminds us that we can be beautiful and lost and angry at the same time.
3) Jessa Johansson; Our Free Spirit
Jessa is our free-spirit. As millennials, we feel invincible. Despite this feeling of misdirection, we feel as though nothing can take us down. Drink six times a week? Sure. Pull all-nighters for no apparent reason? Of course. Hang around with people (read: men) who are clearly bad influences? Why the heck not! Jessa doesn’t give a rat’s ass about consequences or other people’s opinions of her. It’s all about the next cool Bushwick party. She is the careless creature that brings us to make mistakes but produces the best stories. She is the flake that is late to her own abortion. The recklessness that adults criticize millennials for stems from the Jessa inside of us and we wouldn’t change it for the world.
4) Shoshanna Shapiro; Our Rose-Colored Glasses
Shoshanna is my personal favorite. Perhaps stemming from the fact that I am a nice, Jewish girl from Long Island, too. She is deflowered, but not devalued. She is our rose-colored lens and naïveté. Shoshanna goes in with blind assuredness that often is paired with our recklessness. She is the reminder that, even though we may be living on our own or starting our post-graduate jobs, we are still young and immature and child-like. Millennial women still have a lot to learn (i.e., don’t accidentally smoke crack out of a stranger’s pipe) but we are enjoying the growing up process and gradual shedding of every last fiber of our innocence.
HBO returns with the second season of this hit show on Sunday, January 13. I know I will be waiting with baited breath, along with a lot of my female millennial peers, to see how the rest of our lives will pan out on screen.
I had one of those “a-ha!” moments this past weekend.
Standing around a table at a rabbi’s house, his active and giggling children running around the house, waiting for the guest of honor to arrive. We are surprising her with this Shabbat dinner, a multi-course home cooked meal with endless wine, handcrafted menus, and infinite amounts of love that was painstakingly put together by her friends. This evening would be bittersweet, but we were doing our best to drown out the bitter.
This was my first Shabbat dinner in…well, as long as I can remember. My family, while very culturally Jewish, was never particularly religious. But, this dinner wasn’t about the ritual, but more about the feeling, about the understanding, and about the love that we felt for our guest of honor.
We hid quietly in corners, the children peeking through the curtain to see if she was going to arrive. Of course, her lateness was partially caused by me, forcing my roommate who was escorting her to stall because I was running late, getting into the only taxi cab in Boston where the driver had no idea how to get his way around the city. Murphy’s law strikes again.
But, if anything, the suspense of whether this whole shindig would go as planned added to the feeling of accomplishment when the success was imminent. We were so invested in getting everything just perfect for her, biting our nails, getting lost with less-than-fluent taxi drivers, lying through our teeth when she asks us why we are all dressed up (“Kortney, why are you dressed up?” “Oh, I’m going out to dinner with my mom.” “Gabie, you’re dressed up, too??” “Uh, well…Kortney was dressing up, so I didn’t want her to feel alone…”). We went through such great lengths for someone else without even thinking about it.
And then Shayna, our guest of honor, walked through the door with a dumbfounded look on her face as every white lie and odd reaction we had thrown her way the past couple of days came together. Click. And it was all worth it. She couldn’t believe that we did this for her and we couldn’t believe that we pulled it off.
We stood around the table and I was lucky enough to sit by Shayna’s side as we sung through the prayers, walking through the beautiful rituals of sharing the warm challah bread, washing our hands, twice on the right, twice on the left. I had front row seats to watch the wide-eyed happiness on her face as she had the friends that loved her most surrounding her on this Friday night. I hid my smug smile behind the prayer book we were reading – we did it and I couldn’t be happier to have done this for her.
It wasn’t until later when the rabbi wrapped up the dinner with a small teaching from last week’s Torah portion that I really saw the bigger picture of the night. He told us of Bikur cholim, or the mitvah of visiting and extending aid to the sick. It told the story of Abraham’s circumcision, how God visited him as he sat at the entrance of his tent during the hottest part of the day on the third and most painful day of his recovery, waiting to see if any passersby would like to come in to escape the heat and have some refreshments. Abraham, while being sick, was not being selfish and worrying about his own pain, but continuing to ask, “How can I help?”
This story could not have come through at more of a perfect time. Shayna, who is unfortunately taking a leave of absence for medical reasons, never allowed her sickness to stop her from asking how she could help. While the typical response to a situation like this would be tears and friends supporting her, Shayna has been the rock for the rest of us, devastated by her departure. She never stopped being a good friend, asking how our days went, despite how mundane they might be. Her optimism in the situation, her strength, and honest-to-goodness huge heart have opened the eyes of everyone around her. I admire her for this.
I think that night, as all of us girls sitting with eyes welled up as the rabbi detailed the story to us, his devoted audience, our minds were opened to how some things are bigger than us. Things go wrong, sometimes there are unexpected bumps in the road, and sometimes we have to go through something difficult but one thing remains. We grow, we understand, and we move on.
In situations like this, you are opened to the people who really matter to you. In the moment directly following Shayna’s announcement that she was leaving school to her group of friends, we all mobilized to do something for her. “How can we help, how can we make this better?”
I think selflessness is the most genuine when you don’t even realize you are doing it. It is the most genuine when it is the first response to a crisis and your biggest concern is to how to help, rather than how you will cope.
In times like these, you see who really cares about you the most and, possibly even more importantly, you begin to realize who you care about most. Sometimes it takes misfortune to bring about clarity.
This post is dedicated to my wonderful friend, Shayna Leeds, to whom I hope a speedy and easy recovery. While things might look bleak for the near future, you are surrounded by people who will heal your heart as you heal your body.
When you enter the jungle of sorority rush week with active sisters on the prowl for fresh meat, you need to be prepared. To Greek or not to Greek is one of the bigger decision you make in your social collegiate career and, whether we want to admit it or not, it can resemble a Darwin-esque survival of the fittest battle.
Last week, Abigail Sullivan Moore wrote an article for The New York Times about the great lengths that young women go to prepare for the recruitment and pledging process. She cites that many college females attending universities in the South enlist the help of coaches who take them through a mock rush process to prepare them for the actual event.
But never fear! You don’t need a professional rush-army to get you through the recruitment events. Here are some steps that can help you along your way to conquering the jungle and being accepted into the perfect sisterhood for you.
1) Be yourself. While this may sound cliché or obvious, many girls will put on an act to appear more “likeable” with the hopes of seeming like a better fit. But, when rushing a sorority, you are choosing your family away from home (I mean, they are your sisters, after all). Would you want to be stuck with a family for the next four years that you really do not mesh with? Don’t try to fit the mold of the sorority, but see if it fits you!
2) Do your research. Most schools have several sororities that rush on campus. Each sorority has different values, culture, and pillars. Before rushing any or all sororities, make sure you look into the histories and culture of each so you get an idea of what they are looking for and whether this works for you. The sorority rush process is like a two-way job interview – you are looking to impress them and receive a bid, but they want to impress you into accepting their bid, too!
3) Do not rely on reputations. Use your own judgment. A lot of college life revolves around gossip that may or may not be true. Each sorority may have their own campus stereotype but, most of the time, there is little to no truth behind them! While you may hear this or that rumor about certain sororities, go into rush with an open-mind. Listen to what they say about their sorority and what they stand for, rather than what you heard. Your own self-formed opinion will serve as a better guide than false reputations.
4) Explore the different kinds of Greek life opportunities on campus. When it comes to Greek life, people assume that fraternities and sororities resemble those depicted on screen, like ABC Family’s Greek, or the movie Legally Blonde. While it is true that social Greek organizations dominate most campuses, there are other options! There are community service fraternities and sororities, which focus on a more thorough and hands-on service schedule, as well as the social aspects of Greek life. Business fraternities (co-ed) are also on the rise for those future business executives on campus looking to thrive with like-minded individuals. Don’t limit your opportunity to find your niche.
5) Learn how to best market yourself. Carry yourself with confidence and make sure to familiarize yourself with the leadership and community service aspects of your resume. Show your potential future sisters what makes you stand out from the rest of the rushees and why you would be the perfect fit for their sisterhood.
6) Be outgoing. This might be more difficult for some than others, but it is vital when trying to catch the eye of active sisters. In the sea of girls vying for a spot in their top choice sorority, you want to do everything you can to be remembered. Don’t be afraid to go up and introduce yourself to active sisters and ask them about their time in the sorority. Showing interest and initiative are the best way to get on the short-list to getting a bid! (Tip: It is really impressive and useful if you remember the names of the active sisters you talk to. Use whatever mnemonic device you can, repeat it to yourself 100,000 times, whatever helps you remember! Using a person’s name makes them feel good about the conversation, which could really be a plus in the recruitment process, and in making you more memorable!)
7) Dress the part. You want to put your best foot forward because first impressions are everything and, with events as hectic and short as rush, you only have a limited amount of time to really make sure you stick in the minds of active sisters. They are looking for girls who are really taking the process seriously, which means your appearance, as well! Exchange your Ugg boots and tennis shoes for cute flats or sensible heels, and ditch your distressed jeans for a pencil skirt or slacks. You want to ooze professionalism and respectability.
8) Be honest with yourself. Throughout the week, eliminate sororities that you cannot see yourself in. This is all about a mutual perfect fit. You want to be somewhere you feel the most comfortable being yourself. Furthermore, don’t feel like you can or cannot rush based on what your friends are doing. Greek life isn’t for everyone, but if it is for you, joining will be the best decision you could have made in your college social life.
9) Make your own decisions. Opting to go through the rush process with friends could be a great comfort, but it could also hold you back from making the decision that is best for you. It is all about being an individual. Your top choice may not be your friend’s top choice … and this should never sway your decision! In the end, you will both be happy for yourselves and each other when you find yourselves the sorority that is best suited for you.
10) Be appropriate. While television shows and movies might make you believe that sororities are all about partying and dating frat guys, this is far from the truth. Being in a sorority means forging relationships with your sisters, creating a network for outside of college, and learning real world skills like leadership, cooperation, and serving others. Do not talk about drinking, partying, or your finesse with the opposite sex. This is not impressive or becoming of a potential pledge and future sister. Make sure to reveal the best image of yourself.
11) Don’t be nervous. There is nothing to be scared about! Your fear of finding the best place for you parallels the active sisters’ fear of wanting to find the sisters that will be the best additions to their existing Greek family. Instead, look to the exciting future of the possibility of new friends, new experiences, and new skills. Take a deep breath and just be yourself.
12) Be passionate. As a founding member and current president of my campus’ first community service sorority, I remember falling in love with girls who really had a fire behind their words. Tell the active sisters why you love sisterhood, your university, community service, leadership, and friendship! Let your personality come through and the girls are bound to love you. Passion and individuality are king (or queen!) when it comes to recruitment.
13) Enjoy yourself! There is no other process in college – or even post-college – which can truly be compared to sorority rush. It is both exciting and memorable, it will also help to shape the remainder of your collegiate career. Don’t forget to take a moment or two and really appreciate the process, your fellow rushees and active sisters, and the entire Greek life culture.
Good luck and may the sisterhood be with you!
The original article can be found published on PolicyMic: here
Well, I am a typical twenty-something approaching graduation, the Funeral March softly tinkling in the background. The number one thing on my mind is getting a post-grad job. Whether I will be graduating in January 2012 or May 2013 (still up in the air), the number one goal still stands - Get hired, or die trying.
So, in a fit of stress and delusion, I created this short little diddy from the chorus of my favorite summer guilty pleasure. It isn't a moment of musical/lyrical genius, but I hope it makes you smile. Especially you, overly ambitious, stressed and employment-challenged twenty-something. Yes, you.
Hey, I just met you,
and this interview was crazy,
but here's my resume,
so, hire me, maybe...?
Maybe when I am bored at a later date, I will create an entire parody (with YouTube music video included). But, for now, I am going to sign off with that. Wishing you all a happy Fourth of July. May America continue to be a land of the free and home of the brave, but have a little more pity on us graduating college students in the job arena...
In light of Mashable's event this past Saturday - Social Media Day - I've decided to really take some time to think about this (r)evolutionary (even beyond North African uprising) addition to our modern society and what it has meant for me. I mean, if we are inventing wide-reaching events for it, then we must really come to terms with the fact that social media has really made an impact on the way our generation reacts, communicates, and relates.
Social media created the voice of our generation, or maybe just created the possibility for each of us to become the voice of our (or just a) generation...because no blog post should go without a Lena Dunham and/or Girls reference.
I first became interested in social media a couple of years ago. I can't pinpoint a date (although, my Twitterversary is March 3, 2010) or where I was when I decided to invest my free time into trolling the many networking sites that the Internet has to offer. But, I can definitely tell that it has affected my life besides the obvious fact of Facebook being Satan to productivity, encouraging me to spend hours stalking pictures of people I knew well, people I've met once, or people I never want to see again, rather than completing the mountains of work I have looming over my head.
I think that growing up with social networks readily available has succeeded in providing me with my own voice.
I am able to talk about whatever I want, whenever I want and guarantee that at least one other person will see it. If that isn't powerful, I don't know what is. I think that all of us youngsters or twenty-somethings are just trying to be heard and the Facebooks & Twitters of this world are just giving us the outlet.
For better or worse, social media has made pseudo-activists out of all of us. Whether we religiously follow the news or just hear about the big current events through word of mouth, social media has provided an unavoidable way to make sure that huge, trending news stories are heard by all.
For example, when the Kony 2012 viral video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc) emerged through the social media channels, people who had never even cared about the well-being of children in Africa, or Africa in general for that matter, were screaming from the rooftops and stomping their feet in outrage about their concern for the children in Uganda. People were moved to make a difference and make the voices of these invisible children heard by tweeting, posting, status-ing, and video sharing. Social media gave those without a voice the chance to shout and they grabbed it. Even this past week with the SCOTUS decision on Obamacare, I cannot count the number of "I am not sure what Obamacare even entails, but YAY!" (or something along those lines) tweets that I saw from people who I knew for a fact never were politically charged before.
For me, social media has opened the possibility of cross-cultural connection. Since I was fifteen years old (and somewhat old enough to understand the expansiveness of the world we live in), I have constantly been hoping that whatever job I luckily receive in the future would somehow work toward creating a world without borders. A world where differences don't define us, but bring us closer together. What makes me love social media so dearly is that it has created an overflowing channel that lends itself to this end.
Social media emphasizes communication and, in my mind, communication creates understanding.
People from every corner and crevice of the world can easily connect to people from distant lands that they may never have or never will even set foot in. When I was studying abroad in Paris, I used social media to document my time through frequent tweets and hundreds and hundreds of pictures uploading into Facebook albums. Through social media, I painted my study abroad adventure for all to see and enjoy.
Through hashtags and mentions and tags, messages are deployed with an unbelievable reach. Maybe it is just my overly optimistic and rose-colored lens belief, but I believe (and hope) that, if harnessed correctly, social media can really make huge steps in creating a more unified and understanding world. In a way, I'm sure it already has.
More personally, social media has opened up an interesting job path for me and others in a similar field. With post-grad job searches being as difficult as they are and with graduation date fast approaching, this effect of social media has had unbelievable gravity in my life. As a student of communications, public relations, and international relations, I have the opportunity to mesh all of these specialties together to really work on creating a global social media strategy for any company, agency, or product I work for. Social media is so new and constantly evolving that us kids of the millennial persuasion have the opportunity to grab hold of this revolution and ride it to the top. This job title of "community developer/manager" or "engagement specialist" lends itself to us post-undergrad twenty-somethings because we have had our finger on the pulse of social networking since day one. Take THAT Baby Boomers!
So much is left to be explored and mastered, so much is left to develop and evolve. The integration of social media strategy into any company's marketing/PR initiative is growing deeper and deeper. This has given me (and others like me) the chance to be masters and experts, rather than going into a well-established field and learning the practices of our predecessors. We have the chance to lead the (r)evolution.
And, I don't know about you, but I am excited to pave my own path in this new social world.
For those of you who have read my blog, have spoken to me recently, or just generally know anything about me, I am pretty sure you would gather the fact that I just spent the four most amazing months of my life in Paris, the City of Lights, of baguettes, of cheese, and of endless discoverable rues. I am obsessed with my time abroad and I find myself speechless and babbling about it, depending on the day, whenever I am asked the timeless question from people I haven't seen in a while: "So, how was Paris?"
But now, I find myself in another metropole, one that might be even more coveted than Paris (although, that could be debated). This summer, I spend roughly between 50-60 hours of my week working and commuting to New York City. It might sound rough, going two hours a day to and from this gargantuan concrete jungle (isn't this term becoming cliche?), but I get the chills up my spine every time the city skyline peeks out from my window on the LIRR train.
While abroad, whenever a "foreigner" (I hate using this term because, at that point, I was the foreigner, wasn't I?) asked me where I came from, I would just say New York. Why split hairs? It's not like they would understand Long Island geographically anyways. And as for the few that did, they connected it with the Hamptons. So, to save myself an explanation and wasted breath, I would put my hometown under the geographical blanket of New York.
Man, oh man, you should have seen the kind of reactions I would get! It was as if, suddenly, their opinion of me skyrocketed up the charts of coolness. I became this sophisticated, other-worldly creature who traversed the streets of Times Square like a pro and had every opportunity at her fingers.
The last two tidbits aren't entirely untrue (while the first two totally are - I am just a goofball, no sophistication or otherworldiness involved). I do work in the middle of Times Square at the Viacom building, which forces me to not-so effortlessly or gracefully shove myself through hordes of tourists. And NYC does provide endless opportunities, whether for a culinary adventure, the chance of meeting someone truly interesting (i.e., an unusual street artist), or that awesome dream job you've been itching for. It's all here.
New York City is so different from Paris, though. I must admit, I did have a bit of reverse culture shock. The amount of people on the streets doubled, the amount of noise tripled, and the possibility of getting run over in the street by a taxi cab quadrupled (which, with crossing Rue du Rivoli daily while in Paris, is a huge feat).
Sure, both cities have reputations that precede them, unbelievable architecture, culture, and an inordinate amount of tourists, but their flavors vary. Paris is a classier city, one with a regal quality. It's buildings bleed history, luxury, and thatje ne sais quoi that Paris does so well. Paris adapts to every person to deliver them their own bit of fairytale.
New York City is harsher, it demands more attention. It's where the business-minded come to thrive and innovate. It's where the weak are separated from the strong. New York Citymakes you take it's metallic wonder in, rather than molding to your fantasy.
Working in New York City has been a true experience. I am lucky enough to have two internships this summer - Viacom (specifically VH1), as I had earlier mentioned, and on the marketing team of Outbrain (www.outbrain.com, @outbrain), a content discovery platform. Whether I am in Times Square (Monday and Wednesday) or Union Square (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday), I make it a point to take 15-20 minutes out of my day to sit and watch the world pass me by.
I am a professional people watcher.
In Manhattan, the world is constantly buzzing. People are constantly moving, life is constantly rolling on - it's like there is a constant heavy bass-line pushing everyone along on the huge avenues. (Maybe Kaskade or Calvin Harris would be the ones to master the NYC soundtrack?) If Paris had a soundtrack, it would be something along the lines of Debussy or Vanessa Paradis' unbelievably catchy song,La Seine (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z-NbQvhzKM).
Manhattan is busier, dirtier, and harsher, but I love it just the same. Paris is classic, cultured, and endless, and I miss it desperately. Nowhere else in the world could you for four months straight twirl your finger over a map, land on a random metro stop, exit at said metro stop, and wander the streets with curiosity and find new treasures each time. Each of these cities are constantly battling in my heart for the top spot. It's hard to see where I feel more at home, in two places where I feel comfortable with both of the languages.
I guess they each appeal to different sides of me. Paris is my inner wanderluster, elegant debutante, and wine-o. New York City is my goal-driven, attitude-y, ground-stompin' self. Put the two together and you have one girl, in love with the world, lusting after two of the greatest cities ever to be placed on the map.