The Letter I Never Sent

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I have 10 shoeboxes in my closet.

Each of those boxes are labeled in sharpie. One for every year 8th grade through college, one for Kansas City and one for Los Angeles.

In each of these boxes are miscellaneous ribbons, diaries, pictures, birthday cards. Things I should have thrown away but I kept and now I have no idea where they are from or what they mean.

On occasion, I open them up and remember myself from that particular year of my life. Who that girl was, what she wanted, what she didn’t get and what she did. Spoiler alert: it involves a lot of boys and school dances.

I’m not a particularly sentimental person. I have my moments just like everyone else but generally speaking, I reside in the present.

Tonight I was going through my Los Angeles box and found an unopened card addressed to Mr. Ted Miller. It’s my handwriting. It’s my card. I can’t remember what Mr. Miller looked like or what day of the week it was when I met him, and I can tell you I meant to send it. I really did. But I never went through with it.

And now I’m going to tell you why.

I’ve been in the impressive and sprawling lobby of Creative Artist Agency exactly three times. And as long as they haven’t done in recent remodeling, I can tell you to the last detail what it looks like.

There’s a cluster of leather chairs in the middle of the room. To the far end is this red and yellow glass looking mural sculpture that travels floor to ceiling. Everything else is white. Marble maybe.

Creative Artists Agency, or CAA, is probably the single most powerful organization in Hollywood. Their agents represent some of the best and brightest stars in the business. Never heard of them? Good. They want it that way.

And did I want to be an agent? Not really. Did I want to represent some hot shot Hollywood starlet? Negative. I just wanted to write for TV, man. And this is how I was told you do it.

You get a job here Meg, you could make it anywhere. This on your resume, this will get you noticed. This will change your life.

They lovingly refer to CAA’s building as “The Death Star”, mostly because it looks like “The Death Star” and also because when you go inside you lose your soul. Just kidding. Kind of.

Naturally, on my trip down to the parking garage I played The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme Song for reference) and I also wondered if I was the first to do this.

I sat across from Mr. Miller, finally being interviewed by “The Man Who Could Change My Whole Life”. The man who represented THE BEST of TV from Matthew Weiner (Creator of Mad Men) to Zach Braff (One of the greatest humans to ever walk the planet IMO). Floor to ceiling windows looking out into a sea of platinum. Century City. OZ.

I knew it was gametime. I knew if ever there was a time to be charming, intelligent, unique, quick-witted, ambitious… now was that time. This ain’t no HR screening. This is front and center, you better not have spinach in your teeth playa because THIS INTERVIEW IS ALL IN YOUR GRILL.

But I knew staring over Mr. Miller’s shoulders at the pouring rain (really though, how ominous of you, LA) and his little patch of corner office success in a sea of powerful black suits, I just couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t be this man’s assistant. I don’t want to answer his phones, and get his dry cleaning and schedule his meetings, and stay until midnight and make shit money and just hack the lifestyle that I knew joining the elite hunger games arena of CAA would require.

And so I walked out of his office, and down the CAA elevator one last time. Like any good agency interviewee knows, I went to the bathroom and wrote a hand-written note thanking him for his time. But instead of handing it to the front desk to deliver to him, I put it in my purse and left.

And there it sat. I never mailed it.

I highly doubt never sending a thank you note is the sole reason I didn’t get this job. I think someone as powerful as Ted Miller has to rise with a level of intuition. And something about me had flight risk written all over it. Or maybe he just didn’t like me. There are a million reasons to not get a job.

But life is funny right? Like how I waited almost an entire calendar year for this one opportunity, for this job of a lifetime. For the one interview that was going to change everything. Put me on the map. Get me noticed. And sitting there, I knew I didn’t want it anymore.

And there’s a certain power in taking back your choices, you know? In changing your mind. We’re so stuck in an endless rotation of achieving our goals, we forget why were going after them in the first place. Me? I wanted to write. Not be at the agency zoo looking at writers.

And from time to time, I like the reminder. So I take out this unopened card and remember what it was like to walk away from such an opportunity. Then I put it back in my LA shoebox, next to the nine other shoeboxes of who I used to be and I close my closet and I smile and think about everything that has happened since.

Thanks for nothing, Ted. It’s been the opportunity of my lifetime.

 

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Joy to the World: A Real Life Would you Rather

It’s 1 am and I can’t stop thinking about my hypothetical future children.

Ok, not really. But sort of? Allow me to explain. It all started with this question:

Would you rather have a child that is resiliently kind but incorrigibly slow? Or a child who’s deeply intelligent but incorrigibly cruel?

The intelligent child will most likely excel academically where other children struggle. They might be clever and quick-witted which will lead them down a bright path of monetary wealth and career-related success and who doesn’t want that for their future children? However, a lack of compassion as well as a shrewd and cold personality might also result in a series of shallow and meaningless relationships throughout their lives. They may never know true love because they don’t truly know how to love, themselves.

On the other hand, the “slow” child may live a considerably more difficult life. They will be fooled, manipulated, bullied and belittled. By societal standards, they may only ever merely get by. Existing only in the average, an anonymous water boy in a sea of valedictorians. But this child is also born with something you can’t possibly learn in a book. They go into the world never hardened by all of life’s disappointments. They continue to laugh and smile and share true joy with those around them. To the naked judgmental eye, they may never go anywhere in this life, but yet, you feel their goodness inside of you regardless of where you are. And don’t we all want our children to be so joyful?

I struggled not because I am honestly considering my future hypothetical children (can’t put enough LOLs here) but because when I flip the mirror back on myself, who would I personally rather be? And if I had to choose, in the broad spectrum of each individual trait, what’s of greater use in this world to the next generation? What’s more important to living well?

I guess it comes down to your definition of what living well entails.

It’s been said, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. I personally think the same can be applied to kindness. What good is surrounding yourself with brilliant people if they don’t portray an ounce of moral clarity? And what does that say about yourself?

I love a stimulating intellectual conversation with a total stranger. It’s interesting to me to hear how others think. From where their opinions stem. How it can mold and enhance my own thoughts and ideas on the world. But even more than that, I love seeing selflessness from someone I don’t know. I’d rather see more simple random acts of kindness in this world than people talking intelligent theoretical philosophical smack at each other about why their opinions are correct.

I saw this documentary about series of individuals in one neighborhood in Houston, Texas. One particular segment was about a mother and her son, a disabled grown man. Despite the majority of the story line suggesting that this man’s life was generally filled with a simple happiness most of us will never know, there was one scene that really stuck with me. His mom was telling the camera that he’s aware that he doesn’t mentally move as fast as others. She spoke of a time in his frustration, where he balled up his fists and squinted his eyes and started to belly cry. “My life hard,” he sobbed.

I consider myself an intelligent person. I also think there is an infinite amount of education in the world for me to continue to learn for the rest of my life. But I believe kindness is something you can choose regardless of intellectual capacity. It doesn’t make one naive or idiotic or simple or stupid, to be kind. It doesn’t make me inexperienced and uneducated, if I choose to be good. My kindness is a conscious choice not a naive uneducated delusion.

I wanted to go find this man and tell him that. I wanted to tell him it is more important to have an altruistic heart, than a brilliant mind. That no amount of reading about love can make you feel it for yourself. What good is intelligence if you don’t have the compassion to guide it?

In 2016, I’d like to be a better version of myself. Wouldn’t we all in some capacity? Richer. Smarter. Skinnier. Stronger. I’d be lying if I said I don’t wish for a little of all of that as well. Life would be a little easier if we were all a little better. Life is hard because we aren’t. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

But happiness and kindness isn’t something you have to build up to attain. It’s a choice. Something you can do immediately. Someone you can be immediately. You can be a better person right now. A kinder person. A happier person. A person who chooses joy even if all the intelligent experience tells you to harden up and barrel on.

If I had to choose between being the kindest or the smartest person in the room, I want to be the kindest.

Greetings from the drivers seat: or what it’s like to be happily single in the age of engagement

I’m about to say something that a lot of girls might say out loud over a couple of drinks in a superficial conversation with a convenient stranger.

They probably wouldn’t write it down though.

I’m not a lot of girls.

I don’t dream about marriage. I don’t want children. I see both as a lifelong commitment that limits me to a location and a life that maybe someday I won’t want anymore.

I know that is selfish and subject to change. But I’m allowed both. I’m single and 25. And I’ve never been more confident of those words.

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I too have seen people getting engaged everyday. I’m pretty unaffected. I killed a houseplant two weeks ago and every morning I wake up and think about my next move in life. The kind of solidity that these kind of relationships require at this point in my life does not speak to me in the slightest.

I like how independent I am. I like how passionate I can be. I like that when something pisses me off or excites me or just makes me react– I know I have the eloquentness to put my feelings and thoughts into words that I’m not afraid to say out loud or worry (at least too often) that I’ve said too much. In fact, I rarely leave things unsaid. I say what’s on my mind. I write those same letters you never sent, but instead? I sent them.

I like being a mental gypsy. I like having a restless mind. I like being that Elton John song from the Lion King. And most of all, I actually really like being alone. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to wake up next to something other than my body pillow sometimes. That doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely. What it does mean is that the foundation of marriage and relationships- from an outside perspective at least- for being apparently rooted in the idea of two people who love and respect each other and want the other to succeed, feels a lot of the time, incredibly flimsy and superficial.

Explain this to me: You spend your entire life screwing up. You spend too much money. Pick the wrong friends. Choose the wrong job. Move to the wrong state and generally, just migrate from one mistake to the next. There’s nothing wrong with this. The best part of messing up is learning from your mistakes and not doing them again. Doing it better next time. Respect for the perspective you gain. Sometimes, it’s even fun. It’s called LIFE, my friends and anyone who’s said they never made a mistake, you can leave this blog party. Exit to the left. (to the left, to the left)

But yet, when it comes to marriage, this one decision that states very literally, “’till death do us part,” (how’s that for the ultimate YO, DON’T FUCK UP BRO) people seem to all of a sudden have this ABSOLUTE certainty that this person is the other half of your soul, your perfect mate. There is NO WAY I messed this up. I got this particular decision absolutely correct despite an entire lifetime of mistakes leading up to it.

And hey, some people do. My parents for instance. They’ve been married over 25 years now and I live with them so I feel like I can say first hand, it’s not glamorous or anything, but it’s working.

So these aren’t comments from a broken, bitter home. I just come from the school of thought that my parents aren’t the norm, they’re the exception.

Every place I’ve lived has changed me. Has shaped me. From high school, to college, to everywhere between there and now. I want different things than I used to. I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll want 5 years from now. I kind of like that uncertainty. The rush that comes with not knowing. The knowledge that the Meg of 20 will be exponentially different from the Meg of 30. In the best possible way.

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I’m also not worried about “meeting someone.” I certainly admire particular relationships in my life. People who didn’t meet on a “normal” timeline. People who are a team as much as a couple. Who talk and then actually listen. Who work hard for everything they have. Who celebrate each other’s victories, and mourn each others defeats. Who stick it out when it’s hard. Who mess up, but come back swinging humility and forgiveness. No relationship is perfect. But there are those that are built to last. That are founded in trust, and respect and honesty. The way I imagine all relationships really should be.

And I want that. Who doesn’t? We’re all just bumping into each other between our 9-5 commutes and alcoholic binges hoping to feel something, anything. And when you do? When you feel something that strong and that intense and that absurd and that crazy and that wonderful– screw it, maybe I’d get hitched too.

But if you see marriage as a checklist item that you need to X out before you’ve really lived, well I personally think you’re missing the point. If you’re out at a bar this Saturday thinking well maybe this weekend will be the one where I meet someone, I think you’re delusional. And if you’re sitting here wondering when you’re going to meet that person who’s finally going to complete you– well, best of luck my friend.

I know people in unhappy relationships. Who hide their misery in the smoke and mirrors of plastic pink happiness hearts and painted silicon smiles. I know people who are unhappily single. Who are waiting at a street corner for an unmarked bus just around the corner. That is always just around the corner.

Me? I’m just cruising to my favorite song on an empty street in the middle of nowhere. I’ve got enough baggage to get me to my next location and I glance into my rearview every once in a while to see where I’ve been. The road has potholes but I can change my own tires and if I see a hot stranger in the distant future asking for a ride, maybe I’ll stop. But I probably won’t. I’m happily traveling solo as I observe others spinning infidelity and miscommunication donuts in passing parking lots.

I turn up the volume, flip my shades and keep driving. I don’t know where I’m going just yet but like the leather seat under my sweet single ass, I’m just here to enjoy the ride.

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Snap(ped) chat

Dear Snapchat,

That’s it.

We’re done. Finished. Caput. El FIN.

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And you want to know why?

Because I’m sick of this one-sided relationship. I’m sick of feeling used. Because I often find myself making little video/picture stories about my daily food decisions and my occasional day-drinking fiestas for no reason whatsoever. Because I constantly get mind-numbing concert seizure videos from my friends that for the record, NO ONE WATCHES. Because I would be lying if I didn’t say that I didn’t enjoy sending #DefinitelyASelfie pics out to all my cute little fun friends using your easy-to-use button functions.

But in all honesty? It’s over, Snapchat. Because you are ruining lives. And most importantly, you are ruining my life.

I feel like most of our grandparents wrote love letters. Long epic ballads about how much they cared for one another. These days I’m lucky if some guy I like sends me a 4-second picture of the beer he’s drinking.

And you know what the worst part of that is? I GET EXCITED ABOUT SAID PICTURE. Omg guys, so-and-so sent me a picture of what he was eating! Wait. Did he post that picture to his snap story? No!? Ahhhh omg, omg fist-pump/high-five, #PersonalSnap! That means that before he even took a bite of his meal he thought, hmmm I should send Meg a picture of what I am eating. Swoon. I’m LITERALLY like so incredibly touched at such a thoughtful display of poignant flirtation. This is truly the start of our screenshot-saved digital romantic love story memory box that I can like, #TBT when I’m feeling nostalgic. I’ll look back at our relationship and go: Honey, remember when you first sent me that 5-second video of that giraffe at the zoo? That’s when I knew you really cared.

I’m joking, but seriously guys. You know this isn’t far from the truth. When did this lack of communication become the main source of communication between all of us? When did this become second nature? Are you even reading this because it’s longer than 10 seconds?

It occurred to me just how lame this process has become as I became deeply offended yesterday that a friend of mine looked at my snapchat story and didn’t answer my text. Um, I’m sorry anonymous friend but I saw that you saw my 4-second picture of my delicious sushi dinner but you couldn’t take the time to write me a 4-second response to my text inviting you to said dinner? Did you really not have 8 seconds to spare?

Furthermore, are you really so freaking textually impaired that you can take the time to watch the entirety of my Saturday wine night but not answer where you’re going to lunch today? That story was a nonsensical intoxicated 65-second montage of a plate of cheese! I would know you asshole… I was there! Well anonymous snapchat friend. You have hurt my feelings. This will last much longer than 10 seconds I assure you.

And so this what you have reduced me to Snapchat. A neurotic, babbling, pathetic food photog who gets mad when my friends don’t respond to my texts but then watch my pointless snap stories and also get excited when guys send me 10 second videos of the John Legend concert they are at which FOR THE RECORD I can’t even hear, because your iPhone isn’t a professional sound system, you unoriginal, tone-deaf dick.

Sadly, I find that like most of rants about pop culture and the moral flaws that come with such, I am both appalled at the problem at hand, as well as being the problem itself.

And so today, for once, I’m not participating. I’m taking a stand! You and your snaps can all go to 24-hour expiration hell and I’m going to look at my shoes and enjoy my meal. Neither of which you will get to see. So there.

…I’ll probably be back tomorrow.

#SelfieYouLater,

Meg

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This one goes out to the people who never quit. photo 3

The people who stick it out. Who stay around. Day after week after month after year. The dejected soldiers of routine, they trudge on through a grey world, where they are bound like prisoners of their own resilience.

And yet, you never hear the freaking end of their ongoing, monotonous, self-absorbed victimized battle. They play their perseverance to their insipidly toneless cause like a never-ending song on the most out of tune piano ever. Look what I’m putting up with! Listen to what I’ve been going through! Look at me! Feel bad for me!

And I’m unfortunately about to lay some real life truths down right now. For the love of all that is various social media cries for attention, please stop complaining and make a freaking move already. Stop venting about a situation that you have the ability to change. Quit. Just quit! Quit whatever you are doing that is making you so very unhappy that you feel the need to fill each space that you are in with your incredibly palpable negative attitude.

You want to know why I can say this stuff? Because by all definitions, I am a quitter. I couldn’t take the heat. I couldn’t weather the storm. I couldn’t handle the pressure. Whatever cliche you want to staple to my forehead, go the hell ahead. Seriously. Label me a quitter. A loser. A drop-out. A failure. Nothing anyone can say about me is anything worse than what I’ve already at one point labeled myself.

But here’s the difference between you and me. While you’re out weathering the storm, fighting the good fight, keep on keeping on-ing, I’m actually enjoying my life whereas you’re just surviving yours. I’m over the labels that you create your very identity by. Because guess what? I could quit a hundred more times and no one’s really going to be sitting at home thinking, man that Meg, she just doesn’t have her shit together. And you want to know why? Because we’re all way too self-absorbed in our own quittings and winnings and self-actualizations to even consider how many wrong turns someone else is really taking.

One day, I hope you wake up and make your happiness your number one concern. Follow what gives you joy. Because if you do that, and stop worrying about fullfilling some societal unspoken code to follow through at some shit job you hate that’s essentially a dead-end gig full of people who could care less what your next career move is, maybe you won’t be such a kill-joy to the people who surround you who DO want you to succeed. Maybe you’ll actually be, I don’t know, happy! What a novel idea.

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So go on, say what you want about me. But I get shit done in my own way. I do what’s best for me. I know myself. I know when to keep fighting and when it’s time to move on.

I’m always moving. I’m always thinking. I’m planning and plotting and considering my next step and then you know what? I’m taking it. If I don’t like something, I stop doing it. If I’m good at it, I pursue it. But you won’t see me sitting around complaining and moaning about something I have the power to change. You’re going to see me going after it, or leaving it behind. And if that makes me a quitter, so be it.

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To all the people who never quit, this one’s for you.

m

gimme the beat.

Friends, lovers, strangers, random men who are reading this from Tinder–

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(Not to be confused with the hacked app)

Every single day, I have about 300 bizarre ideas pop into my head. Most I keep to myself. Some are far-fetched entrepreneurial plans that I know I will never put into action. Many are songs. Some are stories. Often, it’s an outfit or a food that I desire. (Just now even, I left this post to make myself some pickle toast. Which is toast with pickles on top. No, I am not pregnant or high. Yes, it IS delicious!)

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I have book ideas, and television show plots, and intricate plans to win the affections of Evan Peters from American Horror Story (who I know is blonde and that’s UNNATURAL and feminine or something but I’m into it, so buzz off), little lists to read certain books, sad nostalgic letters I write to previous friends, sudden reminders to call so-and-so back, grandeur pitches to editorial heads of magazines and online publications showcasing my writing wit and lengthy, limitless train of ideas. All aboard the Maggie Express, we’re going nowhere, and we’re going fast. 

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Sadly, most of my ideas, never see screen. They are passing shooting stars in the galaxy of my sleepy brain and on the verge of awakening, I quite often lose them to consciousness. It is a sad reality of having a head like a 25-cent grocery store sticker machine. Full of one-dimensional, glittery viscid cursive typography that never get to see the light of day. 

However. Sometimes! I have an idea and it sticks. Actually, it’s more like it bounces. With rhythm. I can tell a really good idea by its bounce. I’ll forget it for a second. A day. A week. But it keeps coming back. To the beat. That beat in my head.

 

 Today marks year 3 of LeftoversFromFriday. It is still the longest relationship I’ve ever had. I read back through old entries, reading 22-year-old Meg, gives me a certain clarity that I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in order to reach better ones. I read her hope that we can keep college alive, by living each day as if it’s a glory day. And I appreciate her near-sighted cliche adorable idealism, but 3 years later, I can confirm she is missing the big idea here. 

And that is that, you really can do everything you want to do. You really can ‘live the dream’. The problem is nailing that dream down. Keeping the sticker stuck. Permanently inking that idea to your forearm and looking at it everyday. Bouncing it again and again off your head until you have a rhythm you never get sick of and never want to stop playing. And eventually putting whatever it is onto some paper (paper of course, being whatever canvas you choose).

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Yes, therein lies the problem for many of us. The whole WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE/WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO seemingly endless limitless unanswerable question that used to keep me up in the middle of the night, burrowing into my brain like a sickening slow-moving ambitious virus that was the reason for and bane of my existence. The unbearable reality that I was wasting my youth, while also simultaneously not enjoying it the way I should be because I was so worried I was wasting it while also acutely aware that there were others my age doing bigger and better and more successful things, while I was simply wondering what it is I should be doing in the first place. 

Perhaps the problem is that our parents told us we could be anything. Maybe they should have told us we would all be disappointed, and therefore we’d all be satisfied. Imagine our ambition and drive and direction, if we all met our expectations by not meeting expectation! It’s economic inception. It’s the career-related matrix. I’ve discovered the loophole! Call Obama! Anyway.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve always known that writing is something that gives me energy and a high on a level that is far beyond “traits and skills you might have for -insert this job here-” I’ve always been very aware of my strengths and weaknesses. What I don’t and do want. 

But still, I’ve struggled with what degree I want to pursue my creative side. And how? And when? And where? It’s not so simple saying you want to write it turns out. It’s certainly a big step. But it’s like finishing a flight of stairs and your entire career is the Eiffel Tower and you don’t even know why you’re in Paris and you haven’t eaten and some foreign guy keeps shoving flowers in your face but when you take one he yells at you in french and you’re like ok I’ve definitely seen you on tinder before and you totally speak english, asshole. 

 

…Mass confusion. Everyday. Even if you don’t want to pursue something creative, you know what it’s like. Like I was supposed to be someone by now. I was supposed to have my shit a little more together. A little more direction. I certainly know that feeling well. Has it stopped me yet? Have I hung up my hat and settled for administrative purgatory and just writing in my diary on the side? Hell no. 

I have a lot of ideas. A lot of creative thoughts that surge through me every single day. But recently, I’ve been noticing a pattern. A distinct beat. A rhythm for a particular idea.

And that is that I’m very skilled at not only believing I’m on a path of finding my own dream and pursuing it, but also encouraging and believing that you all will find yours. If that’s really what you want. I think we are a generation that despite economic and employment disappointment, despite absurd outstanding debt from the colleges that were supposed to get us our “dream jobs,” despite being supposedly surrounded by others who society would have you believe to be doing and making more, refuses to settle. I think the previous generation often sees this as laziness and entitlement but I disagree. 

I believe that more than any generation before, we can achieve big things. We can make the big ideas in our heads our reality. You don’t have to take the first job you get out of college. Or keep the second job. Or stick with the third. Or screw it, even go to college. If you have the drive and the passion, history has shown us through successful person after successful person that a college degree and a resume of experience can be irrelevant. 

You just have to have an idea. And make that idea into a beat. And turn that beat into a rhythm. And keep creating that rhythm until you find a stride that you never get sick of and never want to stop playing.

And then one day, you’ll wake up and ask yourself that same question. The one question that used to wake you up in the middle of the night.

What do you want to do?

And you’ll answer, well.. I’m doing it.

And the beat goes on…

Happy 3 years-

m

So I have an announcement….

So on top of the hugely cool honor of being published on Freshly Pressed this week… (thank you to every one who read my piece and most importantly, BELIEVES in me!)

It’s my 25th birthday! Which still isn’t my announcement, though a great day by default because birthdays (at least for me) are a time you can appreciate where you’ve been while also enjoying where you are while also looking forward to what’s ahead. Also gifts and cake because duh.

No, my announcement is something much cooler than turning 25.

So are you ready??

…It’s that this morning I was offered a job.

It’s that this morning I was offered a job.

IT’S THAT TODAY I ACCEPTED A JOB!!!!!!!!

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I don’t know how much my last piece went into getting this position but I like to think it made some difference. What I will say is that I wrote it when I was really, really frustrated and down about job searching and how difficult it is to convey to an employer that you could be worth their time, despite how little experience you have to show on a single piece of paper. But I’m so happy to say that finally someone has!

I feel like an unemployed princess in a linkedin fairytale. And now I finally am riding off into the salaried sunset. At least for today.

Can I wish myself a happy birthday? Is that acceptable? Is this not the best birthday present ever? Pinch me?

WELL. ANYWAY.

LET’S PARTY.

m