Sunday, November 23, 2014

Is Social Media Killing Our Sense of Self?

I still remember the days when MySpace was at it's all time glory and girls were always trying to spruce up their AIM profiles and make "cute" away messages. When people posted pictures on worldisround or Yahoo Pics. When almost everyone had their own blog- as in their own Xanga or LiveJournal. I like to think this is when it all started. When the internet started booming and nearly everyone had a computer in their home (more often then not just one, so it had to be shared amongst everyone, AKA fights that could very well start WWIII). This is when people started really putting their lives on the internet. They got personal and shared everything and anyone could come along and read your story and look at what you had done that weekend. People didn't just want others to glimpse into their own personal lives, but they wanted other people looking at their lives, too. It always seemed like a contest. Who had the cooler life. Who had the prettier friends and stylish clothes. Who was going out and having the most fun.

In a way this is to be expected of most pre-teens and teens, but it seems the rise of the internet and these social networking sites made all of this that more intense and life-consuming. If you weren't the one "cyber-stalking" people then you were the one obsessed with making your internet image look it's very best. Or maybe in some cases you were both.

The world changed, the internet changed, we grew up—but this tendency to examine the lives of others and wish we had what they had continued. Kids these days are still going through the same thing my generation did, just with different social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) It's only natural to be a little envious sometimes. It's only natural to wonder what it'd be like to be in someone else's shoes for awhile. Our instincts are usually to reach out for more, never quite satisfied with what we have. Social media allows us to live vicariously through others. But is this more of a problem than a solution?

As a blogger, I'm putting myself out there for everyone to see. But I don't really think my life is worth envying in that sense. Who knows, though. Maybe there are people out there who look at my blog and my social media accounts and feel the same way I do towards other bloggers. I follow a lot of blogs and more often then not, especially now that my life has taken on a boring twist, I envy their lives. I envy their jobs, their apartments/homes, their family/friends, their life in general. I envy it because I want more, I've always wanted more, and I'm never satisfied with what I do have. And I hate that, I really do. I have so much to be grateful for and that I AM grateful for, but I still always find myself feeling like Jay Gatsby, reaching out towards the green light.

I wish I was more content with my own life and didn't have to sit behind a computer screen scrolling through different blogs and social media accounts to "live vicariously through others." As much as I love social media, sometimes I feel that it's really a curse on all of us. It's a constant reminder of what we don't have and what we want, of where we want to be but aren't, etc. You can be perfectly happy with your life, but even then there's a chance that you get a little bit envious of others, too. I've also read somewhere that kids these days tend to just repost images they see on Tumblr instead of actually going out and living their lives. We're all just hiding behind the internet.

I did not set out to write this post to spread a pessimistic message. Rather, I want people to be more aware of what social media does to us, because it's not always so obvious. It's so easy to allow your self-esteem to be lowered because of what you see on the internet. It's easy to lose yourself in another person's life because it remains completely anonymous. And that's a problem. Yes, it's great to have other people be an inspiration to you and it's good to have something you're reaching towards. What's not good, however, is to allow yourself to get completely lost in all of this and forget who you truly are. I want people to remember that each person is unique and everyone has something special to offer. Just because your life is not as "glamorous" or "adventurous" as someone else's doesn't make it any less worthy. I have to remind myself this plenty of times.

Be you, because no body does it better. Be proud of every single breath you take, every single step you take. Don't get so caught up in other people's lives that you forget to live your own life to the fullest.

Guest Post: Founder of Global Young Executive

I admire people who start up their own business so very much, probably because it's something I would like to see myself doing eventually. When Milly reached out to me to write a guest post for her online magazine, Global Young Executive, I was excited to be able to share her story with my readers. If you haven't noticed yet, In-Between Life focuses around following your heart and pursuing your dreams. This is especially important for people our age: the twenty-somethings. The ones who are just starting at life and have so many opportunities in front of them. I admire Milly for having the courage and determination to start her online magazine. This online magazine in particular is targeted towards young entrepreneurs, so I think many of my readers will find it useful. Check out Milly's bio below and some Q + A about Global Young Executive!

Milly Bygrave is a Business Graduate, Postgraduate Law Student and Founder of Global Young Executive magazine. Milly shares her life as a post-graduate juggling post-graduate study and running an online magazine.

1. When did you set up Global Young Executive and what motivated you?

GYE was set up in July 2014 which the aim of encouraging and inspiring young professionals to pursue their business ambitions. As a business graduate I have experienced first hand the gap between academic study and the reality of real business experience so this magazine aims to also highlight new entrepreneurial talent & connect those who are excited about business.

2. Has it been difficult juggling running a magazine and studying a postgraduate course?

It does require a lot of organisation trying to balance my time between commitments but I am also not the only one working for the magazine so we share the work between everyone. Hettie Reed is the News Review Editor & she takes on a significant role not just in her column but she has recently started sourcing people for interviews, and she works on the social media channels with me too.

3. What has been the greatest achievement of the magazine so far?

So far we have interviewed some interesting and inspirational figures in business so that is always a highlight for us. In our upcoming December issue we have US television personality sharing his views on a topical economic development so that’s very exciting. We have entered the UK Blog Awards so hopefully achieving a position in that will be our greatest achievement of 2015.

4. How does the magazine go about actively supporting young people entering the world of work?

We are partners of Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international initiative that provides the inspiration, tools and platforms for young people interested in starting their own business. Business leaders, organisations and school and universities across the globe get involved.

5.  How has running a magazine helped you as a postgraduate?

Aside from the organisation required with sourcing contributors and scheduling content, and balancing this with my postgraduate studies, having the obvious benefit of making me very disciplined with my time – which is a pretty handy in any workplace setting. It also improves all forms of your communication. I am writing emails on a daily basis to business professionals and writing articles for both my magazine and other online publications. 

Anything else you would like to add?

If any of your readers have an interest in entrepreneurialism, business and embarking on the career ladder + more, then I urge them to check out the magazine and write an article for us!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Life Slumps

I've not only been in a blogging slump for the past week or so, but I've found myself in quite a "life slump" as well. I'm definitely not making things better by having started a new show (finally hopping on the Game of Thrones bandwagon) and playing the Sims again. My life lately has been a mix of: job applications, GoT watching, Sims playing and some babysitting on the side. I feel like I haven't done anything that's truly "productive" and that sucks. As I've mentioned before, when you're unemployed it's very easy to fall into these "slumps" and suddenly catch yourself with zero motivation to do anything close to productive. I think it also has to do with the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter. I'm not complaining about my current life situation, because I do have a lot of good things going on and I've always done my best to be grateful for what I do have in life. I do wish, however, that I had something keeping me busy. Something making my mind excited and whirling with ideas and thoughts. A lot of the times I've found that my blog helps keep my creative juices flowing, but even In-Between Life has not been able to keep me on my toes.

The thing is, I know this is just a slump. It's not forever and eventually I will snap out of it once more. It happens to everyone. Sometimes it happens more often during certain periods of your life. The best thing you can do is remind yourself that it's just temporary. Whether good or bad, most things are temporary.

I have this feeling that my slump is almost over. I can feel my creative side just itching to get out. So until then, I'll leave you with this message:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hey, American Media: Get your shit together.

I've been wanting to write about something more "serious" lately but have been stumped with ideas. Rather, I have plenty of ideas, but every time I start to think about them and get ready to tackle the issue—I get super overwhelmed. I sometimes have the tendency to get super, super rattled up over serious issues. I'm passionate in what I believe in and I also can't stand for stupidity or ignorance. That's why as I've grown older, I unfortunately just avoid these topics all together, simply because I know what I would be getting myself into if I did provide my feedback. Well, low and behold, something has finally brought enough attention that I've decided to go ahead and write about it.

To start with: can everyone please stop talking about Kim Kardashian. Not just her butt and how it's "breaking the internet" but just her in general. She has done NOTHING productive. I still don't understand how she rose to such fame. The craziness over celebrities, especially celebrity "scandals", are absolutely ridiculous and it shames me to think that is what most Americans find news-worthy.

You know what I find news-worthy and was appalled to just recently learn about a new occurrence? School shootings. And how they keep happening. All the time. Yet, they don't appear on the news. Why aren't we being informed about every single f****** school shooting? Did you know there was a school shooting in Marysville, Washington on October 24th? Because I did not.

Now, I don't normally go on the news too often to actually search through all the happenings of the day, but when important things happen I find out about them. Yet, this wasn't on my radar. Why? And why am I just finding out about this now? You want to know why? Because they released recordings of the 911 calls. The media thinks that THIS is what the American people want. To hear the desperate and fear-filled voices of people calling 911 to report a school shooting. One that had five victims, including the shooter himself.

I don't even want to link to the news articles about this because I'm pissed off that this is what it takes to actually report on such a tragedy. I'm pissed off that something so horrible keeps happening all across America and in a place where CHILDREN should feel safe. Instead of addressing gun laws and mental health issues, the government seems to only care about how to re-structure the American school system (which p.s. is not working whatsoever).

So, basically, stop talking about stupid things like Kim's ass and start educating yourself on the real issues our country is facing. Because here's a fun fact: You have the power to vote and change laws that affect the important issues. You do not have the power to choose whether or not Kim's ass is all over the internet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

20 Facts About Me

Normally I don't do these sorts of posts, but I was tagged by Emma at It's Emma Elise and I thought it'd be fun to do. I WAS RIGHT! This was a lot of fun and a little bit hard. I'm kind of an open book so I wanted to come up with facts that weren't that obvious about me. I ended up coming up with a lot of childhood ones and may have figured out where my insomnia stems from...

  1. I've been dealing with insomnia since I was a little girl.
  2. Which may be one of the reasons I absolutely love taking naps (but who doesn't?)
  3. My first pet ever was a small fluffy black dog which I got to name myself (I chose Barbie...)
  4. I've lived in the same town almost my whole life (except during college).
  5. When I was 8 or 9 I was really, really into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One day I took a wooden pole I had in my closet (why that was there, I still don't know) and pretended I was slaying vampires. I accidentally punched a hole in my closet door.
  6. Although my full name is Valerie, I've gone by "Val" since Kindergarten-ish. The only other nickname I've had that came close to beating Val is "shvally" which I got during college. Hence my Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram name!
  7. I watched the Chuckie (Childplay) movies when I was 3 years old. I had nightmares until I was 10. (COULD THIS EXPLAIN THE EARLY ONSET OF INSOMNIA?!)
  8. I've been a pescetarian (vegetarian but eat seafood) for over two years now. Also, I'm not sure how that word is properly pronounced.
  9. I was supposed to be born February 14th, but was born three weeks later. MARCH BABIEZ
  10. I am not smiling in any studio portraits taken of me before the age of 5. No one could get me to smile. I look like a baby mob member in all professional photos taken between 1991-1995.
  11. I had my own website (who remembers Angelfire?!) and learned to do HTML on my own before I was 10 years old. It was a "doll" themed site...
  12. I loved dinosaurs as a little girl. I still get excited about Jurassic Park movies. I am ecstatic that the fourth one comes out this upcoming summer.
  13. I have three tattoos and they've all been somewhat spontaneous.
  14. I have recurring dreams of a school I made up in my mind. The dreams are always different (and usually crazy) but the school is always the same.
  15. I believe in ghosts and supernatural beings, but if I were to ever have an encounter I think I'd poop my pants.
  16. I'm notorious for falling down stairs. One time when I was younger I rolled down my cousins' basement stairs and got a concussion and had to be taken to the hospital during which my entire body was x-rayed. A more recent time I fell down my friend's stairs on my face and had a fat lip for a week. I hate stairs.
  17. I have a love/hate relationship with New York City. I've lived half an hour away my whole life, so it's always kind of just been there. I go through phases where I want to live there for at least a year just to experience it. Sometimes I'm totally enchanted by the city, but sometimes it drives me crazy and I need to get back to my suburban lifestyle surrounded by trees and nature (I live near the woods). 
  18. I absolutely love ice skating. It's one of my favorite activities. It always has a calming and relaxing affect on me. I only recently learned how to skate backwards and I'm still working on trying to do a spin but, hey, maybe someday...
  19. 99% of the time I go to Dunkin Donuts: medium French Vanilla iced coffee, little milk, no sugar. If you put sugar in my coffee I hate you.
  20. I want to change the world.

Normally after you do this, you have to tag 20 other bloggers. However, I want to tag ALL OF YOU! So go ahead and do this fun fact challenge and comment below with the link to yours. I'd love to read all of them :) Also, I'm too impatient to find 20 bloggers and tell them they're tagged. :-P

Monday, November 10, 2014

$100 Cash Giveaway!

I teamed up with Jen at Boone + Owl and a few other awesome bloggers to bring you this $100 PayPal cash giveaway, plus some ad space on a few blogs (including yours truly!) So go, go, go and enter away!!!

Giveaway details:
This giveaway will run for ten days, and is mediated by the Rafflecopter widget below. One lucky winner will be randomly chosen at the end of the giveaway and will promptly receive $100 in their Paypal account. Yay! And then will be connected with the lovely ladies behind the blogs that they have won ad space on! It's all kinds of cash flow and ad space goodness. The Rafflecopter is setup so you can move through it easily and quickly! No hopping around from Facebook to Instagram to Bloglovin, and back again. So get yourself entered and good luck!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Day in the Life: Unemployed & Fabulous (not really)

Has anyone ever told you that being unemployed sucks? Well, if they haven't, there ya go. It royally sucks. Every day I wake up and try to muster up some motivation to get things done. It's funny how when we're super busy with work, we want to do ALL THE THINGS. Then, when you have all the free time in the world to do basically everything, you just kind of lay around and think "blah."

Today was different, though. It started off like most days lately. Wake up super early after no sleep because insomnia's kicked in since I'm freaking out about being unemployed, feed the cats, get a cup of joe and sit down at my computer to continue that job search. Eventually after applying to a few jobs, I crash and burn and head back to bed, just to repeat the cycle all over again. Insert some blogging, reading, short naps, "cleaning" and what not in between.

Leyla's not getting fat, she's just growing her winter coat, okay?!

Instead of getting back in bed, though, I decided it was time to stop moping around and actually DO SOMETHING. So I got up and was about to get dressed to head out into the real world, when I suddenly thought "Actually, never mind. I don't feel like getting dressed." So, I sat back down. BUT THEN I got this brilliant idea that maybe if I dressed in business attire and made myself look all professional and what not, I would somehow feel better about everything. So that's what I did. And you know what? It worked.

This is my "someone please hire me" face.

Not only did I realize I much rather wear pencil skirts than dress pants, but I actually almost felt like a real adult. Woo! So if you're currently unemployed and sick of it, I recommend you dress to impress and just go about your day running errands or whatever. It will make you feel less like a useless bum, I promise.

Instead of staying cooped up all day in the house, I not only went thrifting but I also stopped by Petco. Wow. What a productive day. (Yes, sarcasm. But I'm also kind of excited I actually did something today.) 

Fancy Feast for the Fancy Beasts.

Just some light holiday decor, let's not go apeshit with the christmas stuff just yet.

 My favorite part of the day was finding this cute dress for just $10. I now have a NYE outfit planned out. NYE plans no, but the outfit is ready to go.

I have never been a doll person (besides the American Girl doll I got when I was little) but this doll intrigued me so I bought her. Let's hope she doesn't go all Annabelle on me.

So there you go. I got home. Fed the cats. Took out the trash. Emailed people in relation to my job hunting (fingers crossed please). Danced around to some Taylor Swift in my "fancy business attire." And then I passed out around 8 p.m. because I was running on three hours of sleep. Now it's 2 a.m. and I can't fall back asleep. But, alas, that is the life of the unemployed.

Here's to hoping I will not be living this lifestyle for much longer. Although it does have it's perks.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Songs I'm Loving Lately #5: A Little Bit of Everything

Usually for these installments of "Songs I'm Loving Lately" I include five songs, but this time you're getting lucky and I'm sharing SEVEN songs with you! Woo! Half of them are pretty new, too. As usual it's a mix of every genre because my music taste is so broad, but hopefully that means you find at least one new song to your liking. ;)

Leighton Meester

With all the uproar surrounding T. Swift's new album release, you may have missed that Leighton Meester (actress best known for Gossip Girl) has released her own album! Her album "Heartstrings" has a ton of wonderful songs, but this song in particular is my favorite. Her sultry voice mixed with a unique instrumental style match perfectly. 

"Blank Space"
Taylor Swift

Ah, yes, Taylor Swift. Everyone is going cray over her new album "1989" and I can't say I blame them. There's some catchy ass songs on there. This one in particular I can't get out of my head (I woke up at 5:30 this morning with it on my mind, in fact.) I'm not a "Taylor fanatic" so it was a nice surprise to find that I actually enjoy her new album. I think as an artist, and person in general, she's grown up quite a bit. I will admit that when I was a junior in high school (circa 2007ish) I had her break-up angsty songs on repeat for awhile, before she exploded all over the radio. Maybe Taylor and I have both grown up, lolz.

"Rivers and Roads"
The Head and The Heart

For some reason, folk/indie songs tend to pop up on my most played list as the weather turns colder. This song is beautiful. It has both male and female vocals, which I always enjoy with this genre. I first heard it used on HIMYM but I'm glad I did because it's quickly become one of my favorite songs right now.

"Lie a Little Better"
Lucy Hale

Another actress turned singer (although she started off singing before acting but it never quite took off). Lucy came out with her country album "Road Between" over 6 months ago but I still find myself occasionally listening to some of her songs because they're upbeat and catchy country songs. Well, at least this one in particular. I also highly recommend "Nervous Girls" which is a more mellow country song with a powerful message. Oh and if you're into Pretty Little Liars, this song was written about one of her co-stars! I don't know which one, but I'm hoping it's Ezra, ha.

Iron & Wine

Like I said before, during this season I'm praticularly drawn to this type of music. It's mellow and a little sad, but perfect for relaxing.

"All This Time"

This is one of OneRepublic's older songs and definitely not one of their upbeat and catchy songs you may be used to hearing on the radio. It's really romantic (but not sad) and just the right mix of mellow and upbeat for this type of song.

"Beat of the Music"
Brett Eldredge

I'm finishing off this installment of "Songs I'm Loving Lately" with a cute and super country love song, since I did give you a few sad songs after all. Enjoy and let it remind you of summer (only 7 more months till next summer...)

Check out the other installments of "Songs I'm Loving Lately"
one . two . three . four

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Learning from the tough times

I'm writing a post for the Northeast Bloggers Network about being thankful and grateful this month and making sure you don't skip over the meaning of Thanksgiving with all the hoopla that's going around about Christmas being "right around the corner." Both holidays have the same ideologies, but we tend to skip over what the true meaning of Thanksgiving really is because FOOD, FOOD, FOOD! Trust me, I don't blame any of you for doing that. In my post I talk about how it's important to try and take this month as a time to really think about what you're most grateful for and appreciate the little things, along with the big things. Slow down for a minute and forget about Christmas for just a couple weeks. Instead, focus on giving thanks, on being thankful, on reaching out to others, etc.

In the post I made a short list of ways to be grateful or start your path towards being grateful, and one of them actually spoke out to me the most. I didn't realize it while writing it, but I think this is something that can benefit nearly everyone, especially as this year starts coming to a close. It's common to make a list of what you were thankful and grateful for this year. A list of happy moments, moments of clarity, simple things in life that brought you joy, etc. But what we don't see on those lists? Bad moments. Heart wrenching moments. Moments that leave you a messy pile of tears on the floor as you curl up into a ball and wonder "WHY. WHY ME." Of course we don't list those moments. We rather forget about them. Put them in the past and pretend they never happen, only to creep their way into daily life eventually.

So that's when I thought, instead of listing the greatest moments of your year and why you are thankful for them- why not list the toughest moments of this year and why you are thankful for them. Yes. You heard me. Why you are thankful that life brought you such horrible events filled with pain and suffering.

Hear me out. Even in the darkest of hours, there is always a sliver of light, an ounce of hope. It's something that will no doubt be extremely hard to do, but there is something positive to be found in any of your hardest moments. A lesson learned, a realization of some sort, friends and families you know you can count on, the ability to feel something so deeply that when it's gone it leaves you feeling empty, the list goes on. The hard part will be figuring out what good came from what happened, but once you do it may help you better understand things. It might help you realize that everything happens for a reason, no matter how shitty that reason may be. I think working on this kind of list will really shed some light for you. It will open your eyes and it will help you see life in a new perspective.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fall Nature Walks

One of my favorite parts about autumn, and one of the reasons I could probably never leave the northeast, is the beauty of nature during this time period. I'm a nature lover in general and can even find beauty in the dead of winter when nature seems like a ghost town. The changing of fall leaves however is something indescribable. The feeling of leaves crunching beneath your shoes as you wander through a forest and take in the beautiful colors is a one of a kind feeling. Although I took these pictures during an overcast Fall afternoon, I think I still managed to get some nice shots. I can't wait until fall is in full swing and I can take a nature walk during "the golden hour" and get some absolutely breath taking shots. 

Social media tips for bloggers you may not have tried yet

I've been racking my brain trying to figure out what else I can do to increase my following and get more people checking out my blog, but everywhere I look it's basically the same set of advice. I'm already doing the majority of all that and of course we all know it takes time to develop a loyal and steady following, but I felt like there had to be MORE! If you're a blogger, especially a newbie one like myself (am I still considered a newb?), then you know how difficult blogging can actually be. There's much more than just "writing" and even that is a harrowing task itself. So I set to brainstorming, usually in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, and came up with this list. Some of these may be obvious and you're already doing them, but if you're like me these things didn't even occur to you! I'm hoping this list will help some fellow bloggers out.

  • Share your Instagram photos on your Twitter account - I've been having a hard time getting more Instagram followers, which sucks because it's my favorite social media platform. It's not my go-to method for advertising my blog, but it'd still be nice to increase my following. I have a lot more followers on Twitter and the other day I realized "why don't I ever share my Instagram photos on Twitter?!" It's a good way to connect social media accounts (which is always a must for your social media plan) and people will be intrigued to see what the picture you posted is, so they'll get directed to your Instagram. The trick here is to write a good caption to go along with your photo!
  • Use hashtags for your pins - I usually only think of using hashtags for Twitter (and sometimes Insta) but with Pinterest's new search method hashtags can really come in handy when trying to get your pins out there! Also, if someone pins your image and leaves your description (which usually tends to happen) the hashtags remain as well so you get even more exposure! As usual when it comes to using hashtags, though, do not go overboard because it's not aesthetically pleasing and people are more likely to avoid your pin like the plague. 
  • Interact on everything - You always hear tips from other bloggers that you should leave comments on other blogs and always respond to the comments you get in order to build a solid and loyal fan-base, but there's more to it. You should be interacting with other bloggers as much as possible and there are easy ways to do this (that probably take even less time than leaving comments!) Liking someone's Instagram photo or leaving a comment, favoriting a tweet or replying to one, liking someone's Facebook link, etc. These are things you can easily do while scrolling through your various social media feeds. In the past I'd scroll through and in my mind I'd be like "oh that's a nice picture" or "yeah I totally agree with that tweet!" but I'd keep on scrolling. I think by interacting more on these social media platforms, you're letting other bloggers know you exist!
  • Add links to your social media profiles at the end of every blog post (as a signature) - I'll admit this little project is still underway for me, but I definitely plan on creating a signature for all my blog posts in the near future and including links to my social media profiles. Most bloggers already have their links up on their sidebar, but to get even more exposure I absolutely recommend having a signature that includes these links along with every one of your blog posts. Someone may come across one of your posts and really like it, but they won't think of looking at your sidebar to follow you (I feel like this is more of a blogger thing to do) but if they see it literally right there once they are done reading your post, I guarantee they're more likely to follow you. It doesn't even need to be super fancy (in fact, I recommend keeping it as simple as possible). 
  • Don't disappear - I am a wee bit guilty of this one. While of course quality reigns over quantity, sometimes you hit a lag and aren't really posting on your blog or social media accounts. This is when it's crucial that you still give your followers something. Use programs like Buffer or Hootsuite to plan your tweets and Facebook posts ahead of time! Things you should be sharing: old blog posts, links to sites you find interesting, pictures that are sure to get some form of interaction, etc. Don't let your followers forget about you.

Do you have any other "uncommon" social media tips to share?