I Made a Big Decision

When I first started working for my current employer four years ago, I knew I wanted to be there long-term, growing a business I loved with a great team. I got to do just that and I am so grateful for those years. In the back of my head though, I frequently reflected on my time living in Europe and how one day, I wanted to not just travel, but to spend an extended period abroad.

You see – I have never been one to sit around in a resort. I love to learn new languages and learn about different cultures. Fast forward to present, I realized that now is the time to do this. I wanted to do this especially because I am about to begin another graduate program – an MBA.

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I am no stronger to new adventures. This is me, on a week-long volunteer trip in Germany back in 2016.

Not even a month ago, I graduated with my Master’s in English (which I covered in my last post). I had loved going to school while working full-time but the thought of doing another two-year program while working full-time made me overwhelmed. This led me to make the difficult decision to resign from my job. This week is my final week and the feeling is bittersweet. Change is scary! But I feel like years from now, I am going to look back and be happy that I chose this path.

Not everyone is in the position to quit their job, to travel, or to even go to school. I know I am in a position of privilege and a part of me is motivated because I am aware of the position I am in. However, I worked a lot and I planned a lot and am proud of that. My goal is to continue to give back to my local community so that more people are in the position to make similar choices.

In the meantime, I am taking prerequisites before business schools begins in August – statistics, macroeconomics, and microeconomics. Wish me luck!

I’ll share where I am in the world soon, as well as more on my MBA program and my move to another state for school.

If you could take a gap from work, where would you go and what would you do? Staying local is an option. 

I Got an M.A. in English: Some Things I Learned

This month I graduated with my Masters in English. I have been doing this for the past two years, studying part-time while working full-time. Even when I was tired from studying after work, I never complained because I knew I was lucky to be able to study what I love. However, it was not an easy path to get here. I dropped out of law school years before and felt like a total failure – even though I knew I was making the right choice. After years of work and life experience, I surprised myself by doing this program but I am glad I did. Image-1

Here are a few topics I loved exploring:

  1. What makes classic literature so classic? There is a lot of literary theory and we can mainly boil it down to there being a certain type of “taste” that society looks towards. In the end though, there are many books that are not “classics” but very well could have been. We may also  be surprised by the classics of tomorrow.
  2. There are many voices missing from literature. Namely, there is a lack of Black people and other races in literature. However, technology is leading the shift in addressing this. For instance, anyone can blog or tweet. However, so much more needs to be done to promote writing by people who do not fit a stereotypical profile.
  3. Massachusetts is a literary hub. I’m from MA and I have gone to school in MA but do you know what I have failed to appreciate all my life? Most of the famous writers in U.S. history are from here. I never appreciated this as much as I do now. You can complete any M.A. English program across the world and I guarantee you will be offered one American Literature class focused on our writers.
  4. There is an intersection between literature and coding. Yes, coding. As mentioned above, technology is taking the literary world by storm. Many scholars are using the online world to create digital spaces where scholarship on lesser known topics can exist, such as research on African American migration over the centuries. It has never been easier to share this type of research and due to the increased demand, many scholars adapt by learning code.

Of course, there is plenty more that was covered in my classes and these descriptions are barely the tip of the iceberg. Still, they were the topics that made me think the longest. By being engaged with these topics, I think it inspired me to think more creatively. It gave me more confidence while copywriting at work. Whether or not you have the opportunity to get a degree, I think working hard and always learning will help you get to where you want to be.

Arts Majors Can Make it Big!

I had an encounter today that inspired me to write this post. I recently applied to a part-time business school and received a letter in return that stated, “Based on your undergraduate coursework, we don’t believe you have the necessary skills required to do well in an MBA program.” You can believe I was deflated, but for multiple reasons.

Firstly, I have had 7 years work experience in the corporate sector managing publications and making important business decisions on the daily. In other words, I don’t agree with them. Secondly, this only mentions my undergraduate degree (I’m finishing a master’s now), which is in English. Nowadays, MBA programs are designed for people of all backgrounds and people go to business school to acquire…business skills. A part of me feels like I am not being reviewed fairly because of my B.A. in English. However, sometimes what people study as an undergrad does not align with what they do today. In fact, I feel like that is more the norm!

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Ironically, I frequently am asked to speak at university panels about the success of humanities students in the business realm. This is perhaps my favorite topic to discuss because I am living proof that you can be a creative and make it in business – you can even thrive!

All in all, this is one story of one school not looking at me holistically but it makes me wonder: how many people out there are feeling pigeon-holed because they have an arts degree and never thought they could use it? Or how many people get rejections like mine and assume they made a terrible decision with their degree choice?  I am sure I am not the only one being judged, and it’s up to us to break the status quo. Let’s show them (whoever “they” are), that we are more than our degrees!

Let’s live our lives creatively and with exuberance. Whether you want to be a car mechanic, fiddler, or business executive, put your whole heart into it and don’t ever let what people think of you hold you back. 

Adventures as a Library Volunteer

At the beginning of the year, I began volunteering on Saturday mornings at my local library. Since it is close to home and doesn’t require a large time commitment, I figured that some volunteering was better than no volunteering. Being in graduate school on top of full-time work, library volunteering is both convenient and therapeutic.

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A sneak peak of our “Used Book Store.”

Though library volunteering may not sound exotic, I feel like I get to step into a magical place on the weekends and to actually make a difference. My library has a “Used Book Store” that consists of books donations. My job is to re-stock, alphabetize stacks, and to create displays of books based on inventory and demand. For instance, with back-to-school approaching, I recently created a display of books that was more academic: the history of England. We had many books on this in stock and it seemed great for history lovers!

This fall was busy since there was a parade in town and we held our Annual Book Fair to coincide with that date. Hundreds came into the library to get their hands on used books (all of our inventory from storage had to be pulled for it), and I assisted people in the children’s book section.

The next day, I went back to the library but this time, solely as a buyer. I was told that on the second day, people could fill a grocery bag with books and only pay $5! I decided to fill a bag with kids books for my niece and nephew, a bag for me, and oh wait – it was later declared in the day that “all paperbacks were now free” and everyone could take home a single filled bag of them. Of course, this encouraged me to get even more. In total, I brought home three bags of loot and only paid $10 (since one one bag was free). I think I took home about 30 books! Yes, this is excessive but many will go to family and friends, and the ones that don’t may find themselves donated back to the library.

How to Start the Next Female Revolution, According to Elizabeth Gilbert

This week, I attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women, the largest conference for women in the United States. It is not my first time attending, and probably not my last, because it always delivers exceptional content with some of the most inspiring women on the planet. Some of this years speakers were Jesmyn Ward (author of Sing, Unburied, Sing), human rights attorney Amal Clooney, and Elizabeth Gilbert. Many know Gilbert as the author of her popular autobiographical book, Eat, Pray, Love, which was adapted into a 2010 film starring Julia Roberts (who portrayed Gilbert).

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Since that smash book, Gilbert has continued to write and most recently penned 2015’s Big Magic. However, I was struck by how this woman, with so many vibrant life experiences, spoke so softly to the crowd when she covered the topic of female empowerment.

Gilbert asked the nearly 12,000-person audience, “what is the one word that best describes what a woman should aspire to be?” Gilbert then listed a number of acronyms such as fierce, loyal, and badass but said that all of these words – though perfectly acceptable – are already words she would use to describe the women in life.

According to Gilbert, to start the next female revolution, there is one word to describe how women should behave – relaxed. Yes, you read that right.

Common fears with being relaxed:

  1. We will relax and then everything will fall apart: careers, children, and a never-ending amount of obligations
  2. Being relaxed will make us lazy.
  3. Relaxing means not giving our all, when we could be focusing on important social causes or things that change the world (such as female equality).

The idea of relaxation sounds relaxing but actually being relaxed is another story. Gilbert’s solution: “I’m not sure.” However, from personal experience she was able to finally reach a relaxed state when she realized that the world is a large place and many of our problems are trivial – well, trivial in the grand scheme of life.

For instance, we have a solar system with stars continuously being made and things in motion in faraway planets that we still have no idea about. If we were to take a deep breath, pause, and remember that the world is still going to keep rolling, then we can begin to welcome more gratitude in ours lives, and fight the factors that cause anxiety on a daily basis.

Have you ever encountered a big moment in your life that put things into perspective?

Book Review of “Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism, and Politics”

In exchange for an honest review, I received an advanced reader copy of the book being discussed. Thanks NetGalley!

As reported by The New York Times, the Trump Administration is seeking to eliminate the protections of Title IX for transgender individuals. As a Massachusetts resident, this news comes amid a state campaign to repeal the Commonwealth’s Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law, which was enacted in 2016. Especially due the overly-negative political climate towards transgender individuals, I felt lucky to get my hands on an advanced copy “Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism, and Politics,” written by Rachel Anne Williams.

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The over of the forthcoming book from NetGalley.

Williams’ book is comprised of a series of essays sharing her personal transition to being female, feminist musings, gender and politics, as well as a deep exploration into gender identity. Even if you are familiar with transgender issues, as I was when I ventured into this book, there is still plenty to learn from. I personally did not know much about the fetishization of transgenders (largely from the porn industry), nor did I know much about the dating scene as a transgender.

The section I found particularly touching is when Williams discusses how by transitioning into a woman, she was giving up the patriarchal freedoms she had as a man. In the essay “Giving Up My Male Privilege” she writes, “I had the privilege to speak up in class and dominate class discussions. I had the privilege to go through grad school in philosophy without people assuming I wasn’t ‘cut out’ for philosophy, rational thought, or argumentation….I had the privilege of mansplaining.” The list goes on about the privileges she gave up as a male, in order to be the person that she wants to be.

In a world where we are told to “be ourselves,” our society tends to draw the line at being transgendered. It is stunning to me how people can be mistreated, and even killed, for being different. Who a person is and who they choose to love is entirely their business. That’s why I think Williams’ book is a powerful testament to those who dare to be themselves, as well as those who failed. We need more people like this author to share their stories and their beliefs because as a society, we will only be strong if we are supporting and accepting our differences.

Rachel Anne Williams’ book will be on sale beginning May 2019. The book is not yet available for pre-order, but you can read more about this author on her blog.

Volunteering: 2018 in Review

In the past, I have discussed my experiences with taking a Volunteer Day. I have been fortunate to work for a company that genuinely cares for the community and is best-in-class with their sustainability efforts! This is something that I am personally very passionate about, both inside and out of the office.

For about a year now, I have been volunteering on Saturday morning’s at my local library and I absolutely love it! I understand that volunteering outside of work time is isn’t feasible for many – I work and am in graduate school so I definitely feel the pressures of time management. However, if you are able to dedicate a few days a year, I highly recommend it. With more and more companies encouraging employees to take off time each quarter to volunteer, it makes it easy for any schedule.

Here are some of my achievements this year, with reflections on volunteerism:

  • I raised money for education. When volunteering at the library, I was able to sort books for their Annual Used Book sale in which all proceeds go to charities that promote education. Last week, our sale raised $4,200 (I also snagged a lot of great books in the process too!)
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  • I helped a local nonprofit using skills I already use on the job. I recently volunteered the Nordic Bites 2018 Food Festival to promote Scandinavian culture in the Boston area. My uncle is the Director of a nonprofit which promotes Scandinavian culture and he has always taught me the importance of learning about other cultures, because it promotes the acceptance of others. While at the festival, I captured content that the nonprofit can use throughout the year to promote their cultural center.

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    Classic Nordic tunes music were featured at the Nordic Food Festival.
  • I was the Team Leader for my company’s Walk for Alzheimer’s this past weekend, in honor of my grandmother. My grandmother (“Nona”) was truly special and to watch her lose her memory was heartbreaking. By having my company rally with me to raise money and to promote the cure for Alzheimer’s, it was personally touching. And think about how many lives the cure will save! My company has a general matching program which allowed me to raise close to $1,000!
  • I made connections with people who have similar interests. You truly never know who you will meet when you are volunteering but no matter what the person’s background, you are brought together for the same cause. That is so powerful!

Being able to collaborate and connect with others translates directly back into your work environments, since working together leads to success.

This year was filled with great volunteer opportunities, so my hope is that more people will feel empowered to create change in their communities.

That said, which social causes are you interested in?