23 Things I Realized at 23

Now in my first month of being 24 ~happy belated birthday to me~,  I can’t help but think about all that I realized in my 23rd year. I realized that most clichés are true (and clichés for a reason), and that life … Continue reading

Trust the Person Who Controls Your Happiness

Trust the person who controls your happiness. This is the person who has been there for the ups, the downs, and the insane. This is the person who despite all of your flaws, thinks you’re #flawless. And through all of your imperfections, … Continue reading

What ’22’ Felt Like

22.1I turned 23 this month, which means my days of rocking out to Taylor Swift’s 22 are (kind of – sort of – not really) over. I decided to not focus on making my birth ‘day’ such a big deal, and instead focus on celebrating another year of life. On a side note, my birthday was wonderfully spent having breakfast and dinner with Matt, and spending the day at the job I love.

Here are 22 life moments that happened during my 22nd year. This is what 22 felt like.

 

1. I stayed involved
Piggy-backing off my Senior with No Senioritis post, I was very, very involved my senior year in college. I was Vice President of Communications for my sorority, a USF Ambassador, a Her Campus USF writer (& look at me now!), among maintaining a 3.54 GPA. I don’t take any of my busy days for granted, and I honestly miss running around campus – sometimes literally – with a packed agenda.

2. And had two awesome on-campus jobs
I was blessed to end my college experience with two very rewarding jobs. One was as the Community Manager (role of on RA) to my sorority house. Living in my own, FREE, room in the house was a dream — but came with many responsibilities. It actually caused me a lot of stress, but mainly because I care so much about my organization I put 110% into everything from a taco night to fire, health & safety checks. I also worked as the Marketing Assistant for Wellness USF. I met & worked so many amazing people who were powerhouses of passion. Promoting USF services & events + being healthy – win/win!

3. I graduated college
This year I graduated from the University of South Florida Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communications – Public Relations and minor in Leadership Studies. I am a proud alumna of my university, with a lifetime membership to prove it!

4. I became an alumna of Alpha Omicron Pi
With that, I also became an alumna of my sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi. I have made a promise to remain loyal to my fraternity, and will forever do that. ALAM ❤ Can’t wait to get more involved with the Boston Alumnae Chapter!

5. I was recognized for good works
I am not one to boast about awards, but they did play a big role in my 22nd year. I spoke at the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors Annual Meeting with Ginny Carroll from Circle of Sisterhood, received the AOII Shannon Walsh award from my chapter, and also received a Legacy Award from the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life. #blessed

6. I completed a year (and counting!) with a man that I love.
Matt & I are happily approaching our 2nd year (on Jan. 11!) and I am so thankful for him. He is my best friend and has been there for all my ups and downs. So glad we’re on this Boston journey together!

7. I stayed home
Many graduates fear moving back home after graduation. However, moving home for 3 months this summer was the best decision I could have made in May. Family rules.

8. I went back to summer camp
I will never forget summer 2014! Going back to being a counselor at Next Stop Broadway was a dream. I had the perfect summer with lifelong friends and good vibes. Love my NSB fam, always!

9. I got a job!
OBVIOUSLY a huge deal in my 22nd year! I graduated in May and worked hard to land a job by June! It is clear to see that I am incredibly happy at Her Campus Media.

10. I moved to a new state
I am in love with Florida, and I realize how much after I moved. BUT, Boston is so wonderful and I never regret the move. I am so excited for seasons (wish me luck in winter), and a plethora of good times ahead.

11. I never took family for granted
Every year that I get older, I get more attached to my family. I love how much you begin to understand them, and also how much they are always right.

12. I made new friends
Shoutout to all the new friends I made this year! Some are back in Florida and a good majority are here in Boston! Cue Michael Buble’s “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” as an ode to all the friends I will make while 23.

13. . . . And kept old friends
Having friends who were still your friend during that most awkward stage of life are true. My lifelong friends know who they are and I am so happy I got to see most of you this summer! Love you always. Thanks for the best #tbt photos.

14. I balanced being healthy + treating myself
I am a true #foodie and am an advocate for eating what you want. I’ve been too focused on strict diets in past years, and this year I feel that I did a solid job of finding a balance. Work Hard, *GO OUT TO EAT* Hard!

15. I was reminded that every day is a gift
Unfortunately, there have been to many lives cut short this past year. I know that is true in so many of our lives. Two beautiful girls from my high school were killed by a wrong-way driver, and so were 4 amazing fraternity men from USF not much longer. This is not okay. Don’t ever take a day for granted. Also, don’t drink and drive — it’s really not cool.

16. I moved in to my own apartment and I pay my own rent
I lived on campus all 4 years of college. With that, it is so exciting being in my first apartment! Paying my first bills were exciting . . . until I looked at my bank statement. Also, the goal of making your room look like an IKEA showroom is very addicting.

17. I got stressed out
Being involved, job searching, interviewing, etc. certainly created a lot of stress in my 22nd year! I had Matt by my side continuously telling me, “Babe, everything always works out.” He is always right when he says that, and I will aim for significantly less stress this year!

18. And I stopped letting stress get in the way (successful work in progress)
I have a great life to live, and these past few months have really inspired me to remember that. At least stressed spelled backwards is desserts . . .

19. I said thank you
It would be awesome if I could find out exactly how many times I said thank you this year, since I had so much to be thankful for! It is so important to spread that little act of kindness.

20. I made unforgettable memories
From staying up until 4 a.m. talking on the AOII house couch to buying a new Mac Book Pro with my savings, I had so many memories! I am glad I am one to take plenty of pictures — I had so much fun going through my FB albums from this past year to help inspire this post.

21. I laughed and I cried
And sometimes a combination of the two. This was certainly a very emotional year, and you can imagine how rough the 4 hour drive, alone, moving home from Tampa was. Thanks to everyone who made me laugh to offset the bad days!

22. Through all the ups and downs, I believed in myself
Lastly, I am where I am now at 23 because I believed in myself at 22.

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Moving On Up – Literally

Today is my last full day as a Floridian. Tomorrow I will be a Bostonian.

IMG_7359With today being my last day, I am reflecting on how thankful I am for everything – especially these past three months. I have had one of the best summers ever and I spent it at home! Working at the summer camp I grew up at was the best decision I could have made. It was the ultimate mental detox from being such an involved student, and it is an amazing experience to spend time with friends you have basically known your whole life.

Seriously though – major shout out to my Next Stop Broadway family. They give me so much life and this summer had me laughing every day because they just get it. From needing to use a “phone bucket” to peel my 12/13-year-old campers off their phones to Wednesday dress up days, I loved every minute of it. P.S. to all reading – I got “Best Counselor of the Year” with fellow rockstar Daniel Kies which really was the icing on the cake! I have so much love for all of you.

IMG_7498Also, I really missed my family, so these three months were highly cherished. Now, I’m about to embark on a journey that will make me miss them even more. Moving to Boston is not easy, but somehow at this moment I have all my suitcases (only 2.5 . . . ) packed and three boxes ready to be shipped. I am looking forward to this next step in my life, and I am filled with so many emotions.

Boston will be amazing, I will have my wonderful boyfriend by my side as he begins grad school at Northeastern, one of my best friends Becca as a neighbor, and I will be rooming with a fellow AOII alumna! PLUS, my co-workers are all so fabulous and I can’t wait to contribute to the glory that is Her Campus.

To my loving family who I know is reading this: Thank you from every bit of my heart. You put up with me this summer, helped me prepare for this move, and taught me so much (as you always have). Thank you for being you. There are no words to describe how thankful I am. I had a wonderful family BBQ to say farewell, and passed down my Barbies and American Girl, which was a clear sign of “growing up.”

BFF Since Pre-KThis summer reminded me to cherish lifelong friends. My friends and sisters from college are amazing, but there is nothing like lifelong friends who just get you. Friends who remember your AOL Hometown Page and away messages, and who wrote in your Hello Kitty Friends File. I have so many amazing friends in my life that I can talk to once every five months yet we never grow apart. You all know who you are!

I can’t say it enough – I have so many emotions right now. I am nervous, excited, proud, determined, scared, and so ready all at the same time. I’m coming for you Boston with my fancy new haircut (but I will miss Publix dearly).

All my love from Florida,

Danielle

Re: Fears of a New Graduate

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“But first . . .”

I recently read a great Levo League article, Fears of a New Graduate, that is spot on. Fears discussed in the article: Living up to your own expectations, no longer being in a place where learning is an ostensible goal, and a job with no definite end point.

After reading this article I had such a sense of relief knowing I was not the only one with these fears (I don’t why I ever thought I was). I feel that you enter college thinking it is so unstructured – you have all of this new freedom, you get to pick your class times, etc. However, I look back and miss how structured it actually was. I miss the little habitual moments like starting a new semester, scoring the last seat in a class, or my favorite of planning out what leadership position(s) to pursue next.

My dad jokes and says that I spent the past four years in “bubble wrap”. USF was a microcosm of the real world for me. I took on that university with so much passion and drive, joining organizations and taking on opportunities that allowed me to develop both socially and professionally. I never lived off campus; I went right from the first-year dorm to my sorority house, which by the way, was among the best decisions I made in college. You have your whole life to live in an apartment or house.

Here are two fears I have come across this first post-graduate month, and my advice. I hope many of you reading can relate!

1. Taking time off.

A sad reality of graduating is that there are no more winter, spring, or summer breaks. As I neared my graduation, I took that into consideration and had this question running through my mind: “Can I take the time off, or do I have get a job right away to stay competitive in my industry?” I am not sure if there is any right or wrong answer, because I’ve learned that either path can lead to success. I spent last summer in New York City – but not on vacation as much as it felt like one some times. I had a very fast-paced PR internship that kept me on my feet (sometimes literally). Since I started college, I always had a full plate.

Advice: Do not make decisions out of fear. Do what is best for yourself physically, mentally, and financially. I am still partially afraid of having a ‘break’ in my resume, but this three-month break before I move up north will end up being very good for me. I came across acceptances to opportunities this summer away from home, but timing and logistics led me to believe I need this. I will be working at the performing arts center I grew up at with lifelong friends by my side, while staying on track with my fitness and career goals. Looking for a job will be another full-time job – if you take time off, stay proactive!

2. Regretting every decision.

There is the cliché advice to “live life with no regrets!” but as a new graduate, you feel like you are playing the game of LIFE and you question every move. “What if I would have just moved away the week after graduation?”, “What if I do not really want that first job I get?”, “What if I applied to graduate school instead?”

Advice: Make decisions based on what you know. Okay, confession – that is word-for-word my mom’s advice to me during this time. She has said that to me repeatedly and now I find it true. My junior year, I almost did not apply to my New York internship on time because I was in the midst of running for chapter president of my sorority. I thought, “what if I get president? I won’t want to leave Tampa this summer.” I quickly realized that was a silly reason to not apply, and I am so thankful the New York internship door was the one that opened.  I promise you that everything works out in the end, and regretting a decision you can not take back will drive you insane and stop you from moving forward. As a graduate, you have a college degree which makes you very qualified to make decisions.

A Senior with No ‘Senioritis’

Credit: Alexandria Salmieri Photography

Well, tomorrow makes one week until I graduate. I have had my last exam, last class, and last formal among other lasts. I am a proud alumna of my sorority, and my parents have graciously given me lifetime membership to my university as a graduation gift.

With all of these closing doors, I have not caught the ‘senioritis’. I will be receiving 4 A’s and a potential 5th grade of an A- (so close) and continuing my housing position two weeks beyond graduation. I actually have been wearing dresses to class – not athletic shorts. I pride myself on never checking out. I am so proud to be a woman in education, and I will walk across that stage with honor as a first-generation college student.

These last weeks have been such a ride. I was honored with a Legacy Award at the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life for a legacy of Passion, Advocacy, Conviction, and Energy.


“The Legacy Award recognizes graduating seniors who have made significant impacts within their fraternity or sorority, council, and the USF fraternity and sorority community. Recipients are individuals who epitomize the values of their chosen organizations and actively work to advance the fraternal values movement. They are innovators, positive change agents, and students of character and integrity. Most importantly, recipients have built a strong foundation and left a legacy for others to follow. Because of their involvement, others can say that our fraternity and sorority community is better.”

Credit: Alexandria Salmieri Photography

I am so humbled by this award. My story is my drive to bring the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation as the USF Panhellenic philanthropy in spring 2011. This foundation raises funds and awareness for girls in poverty to receive an education. This journey has been made possible by so many Panhellenic women and other supporters – I look forward to seeing this cause grow, and thank all who have been a part.

So as I walk across that stage with my AOII stitched cap, AOII stole, and Ambassador Medallion, I will be representing four years of passion, drive, and energy. And okay – I think I deserve a day . . . or a few . . . to relax.

P.S. I was honored to receive the Shannon Walsh award for the second time by my chapter, an award honored to a most valuable sister in recognition of alumna Shannon Walsh, who embodies AOII values. All of my sisters are deserving of this. Just as important, Matt and I got cutest couple again! Cheers to commitment.

I am so proud of Matt, who will be headed to Northeastern University for graduate school. Me? Stay tuned for any updates on my next journey. The right doors will open soon enough.

– Danielle

40 days, but who is counting?

In a past post, My 40% of Happiness, I noted of learning that happiness is 50% genetic, 10% circumstances and 40% – intentional (you choose). So, I find today to be an appropriate day to reflect since I graduate from the University of South Florida in 40 days.

A lot can happen in 40 days. In the past 40 days, I have transitioned out of my last executive position within my sorority, traveled to Boston with Matt, celebrated the birthdays of my sister and dad, and learned more about myself along the way.

Boston was my most alternative spring break, and thus the most rewarding. It was interesting when people would ask why we were in Boston – Our replies: “I am visiting graduate schools!” and “I have a job interview!” – pause – Where did our lives go?

Things are happening so fast, but I have to remember that I am 22 – and feelin’ it! I had the opportunity to interview with one of my dream PR agencies, and I hope that door opens for me. Plus, Matt got accepted to Northeastern University and I am so proud of him!

We visited the original Cheers, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston Tea Party Museum, Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, Harvard, Northeastern, among other hot spots. I even got to see my lifelong friend Becca – plug for Becca Bakes – and my friend Megan who I worked with at GolinHarris. Matt and I ate a lot of food, with plenty of lobster & chowda to choose from, and you can bet that I took a picture of everything. Follow me on IG @deekush if you appreciate a meal in your feed at least twice a day. No shame in being branded as a #foodie. Oh, and another plug for comedian Josh Blue who we saw at Laugh Boston!

Matt always tells me that everything works out. And alas . . . it always does.

Now, I am going to graduate from USF in 40 days with every week someone asking me, “So, what’s next?!” I will definitely let you all know as soon as I know. I have had so many opportunities here at USF within sorority life, my on-campus jobs, and the honor of serving as a USF Ambassador (crazy that we just welcomed our new class last week and I’ve reached my 1-year mark!)

40 days seems like a lot, but it is not. I will take each day one by one and enjoy the moments.

Cheers,
Danielle