Story Time: Why I left My First Job After 1 Year

It’s May!! Which means graduation season for probably millions around the country, and many of you heading off to new cities and new jobs. First, congratulations! College is so hard and draining, but you made it!giphy-downsized-large

On top of all the excitement and relief, many of you are probably wondering, what next? What comes after college graduation?

Well, I can’t answer that for you. But I can say this, it will most likely include some twists and turns.

I graduated from college in December 2016, and after a slew of applications, I landed my first “adult” job as a research assistant in March. It paid more than I was expecting to get, and I really liked my boss and office mates.

Everything seemed great, except it meant about 3.5 hours of commuting in traffic every day and I found out the position had nothing to do with research.

Worst, I often had nothing to do. Any self-projects I took on to make my teams work easier was applauded but never implemented. I felt useless. I told my boss I wanted more to do, more set responsibilities and she understood but nothing changed.

After a couple of months, I was deeply unhappy with my life and with myself. I felt like I didn’t have expertise in anything, and I wasn’t gaining any. I had no career goals, a boring social life, and I was gaining weight (20lbs total in 2017) from sitting down for 10+ hours every day. Also, because the DC area is ridiculously expensive, I couldn’t afford to move closer. I was depressed, and it made everything so much harder.

Needless to say, 2017 was rough. After a breakdown around Christmas last year, I knew something had to change. I had to do something. The job was starting to feel like an albatross around my neck and the only positive was that I had money. Which, I’ll pause here to say, is a fucking great perk. But in the end, I was feeling too low for it to mean anything. All I did with it was pay bills (again, GREAT!) and buy clothes, trying desperately, to make myself feel better. Although seeing my larger size had the opposite effect.

I had no purpose and no direction. I had no idea what I was doing.

I didn’t have time for in-person counseling, so I sought therapy online. I was advised self-care and allowing myself indulgences—which I’m notoriously bad at—and leaving the job and situation that was making me so unhappy. Which I thought about, I started applying to other jobs in October of 2017. I got called in for a couple of interviews in January, but by then I had already decided on my little sabbatical. I was going to go visit my family in Africa for a month, take a break, get some advice, write, and try to understand more about myself and the world around me.

It was maybe one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. For one, learned that I am horrible with down time. Once I got back to the U.S. I hated having so much time to myself. I need the structure of a job, but with a little more time for myself. In other words, my next position needs to be much closer to home.

Second, I figured out that no one is all that sure what they’re doing. Very few people have a full life plan with every little thing figured out. I am always so afraid of making the wrong decision, as if leaving a job I hate, or something similar was going to be a death sentence. Deciding to leave meant that for the first time in a long time, I grabbed the reigns and made something happen in my life instead of floating from one situation to the next, no matter how much pain I was in.

I also have a better idea of what purpose is now. I was very naïve coming out of college, I thought getting a job would make everything snap into place and I would be happy. Nope, you have to make things happen and work to keep them happening. That also means dealing with the potentially sucky consequences of your actions, but the other option—not making the decisions in the first place—also sucks.

I stayed at my last position so long because I wasn’t sure I had the right to leave or to want anything more than what I had. Good pay and good coworkers. Especially when I didn’t have much family money to rely on. What more could I want?

Good mental health, it turns out, is what I have a right to want and to reach for. I’m not looking for perfection, I think I will be doing this dance with anxiety and depression for a while. But at the very least, I should not be actively putting myself in distress.

Just to be clear, I am very grateful for my first job. I was miserable every day and it took a toll on me, but I learned a lot about myself and what I want and need in life. Even if I’m not totally clear on what my future will look like or what I’m going to do, I have a much better understanding of the importance of job satisfaction and what the “real world” is really like.

I would say this post is more of a PSA than a warning. Things may not just fall into place with the “right” job. A life takes work beyond the office and I think that’s part of the fun.

Congrats graduates! Get out there and don’t be afraid to change direction if the current path feels wrong.

On book slumps, depression , and happiness

In the past year, I’ve been amazed at how little I thought about what my life would look like beyond college. The only thing I could imagine was “Oh, I’ll get a job.” It never occurred to me that I should have planned for something beyond that. Up to that point, I’d done everything I was told I needed to do and I mostly let life happen to me.  All of this has been a struggle to admit to myself. I like to think of myself as a pretty smart person so looking back and realizing all of the stupid mistakes I made, and continue to make, has been rough. That last part especially, I’m still making these mistakes to make these mistakes. The reality is, you have to shape your life to make it look like what you want.

January was truly a hard year. I read one book, “This Love Story will Self-Destruct,” and spent the rest of the time in a slump trying desperately to make my way through a book I’m actually interested in. I’ve really just been too sad to read, and that breaks my heart. I haven’t written much (at all) either. I won’t say that I’m officially depressed since I haven’t been diagnosed by a doctor, but it sure as shit feels like it. All this after I’ve acknowledged that I need to make a change, and I’m already planning to (more on that later). The thing about change is after letting life happen to you for so long, making a decision makes a hard left from the easy path is TERRIFYING. Even though the thought of not following through with my plans makes me sob and gasp for breath. I’m taking a risk and wading into uncharted waters for myself, and I’m scared, but I also know that I can’t not do it.

I wouldn’t say I’m chasing happiness exactly, but I do want to wake up not dreading my day. I want to give at least half a shit about what I’m doing, I want to feel a sense of ownership and accomplishment. It’s very easy to follow the expected path, and it isn’t always bad. But, listening to yourself and your feelings and allowing yourself to deviate is tough, but I think there comes a point when you absolutely have to try and I’m there.

I began this year really excited about the change and being more daring, and I won’t lie, the first 30 days nearly broke me. It would be easier to keep doing the same thing, but it would also be extremely painful.

Wish me luck and keep me in your prayers guys, I need it.

Sorry for the vagueness, I want to do a better series of posts once everything is a little more concrete.

How’s the start of your year going?

Review: This Love Story will Self-Destruct by Leslie Cohen

Release Date: January 23rd, 2018

Thank youlove story to Gallery Books and Net Galley for this (my first!) e-ARC.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Favorite Line: “It should be illegal for two English majors to date each other.”

This is the story of Eve and Ben. We meet them in their last year at Columbia University and follow them through their 20s in the great city of New York!

The last half this book was so fun. Eve and Ben are a funny as hell read. Cohen does a wonderful job with their chemistry and their dialogue was so natural. Eve’s sister Emma seemed awesome and I wish there was more of her in the book! And more closure for their relationship with their dad.

What was really jarring for me, was the casual drug use and unhealthy relationship at the beginning. Eve and her friends snort an unidentified white powder hoping it is cocaine, Jesse delivers drugs mid-hookup, then doing heroin…the tone just didn’t mesh. It felt super out of the blue and kind of just dropped in for effect.

That being said, this book spans a decade in Eve and Ben’s lives and it reads very much like quick snippets. I really liked that, it puts the reader at a distance and forces you to just observe. I think this format explains some of what I didn’t like with the loose ends and underdeveloped characters/subjects. It’s a full story in terms of the romance, but everything else is secondary and not necessarily wrapped up unless it moves the relationship somehow.

My favorite character in this was New York City. Like Eve’s mother and many other people, I absolutely love New York City. Well, in my case I love the idea of NYC since I’ve only been there a couple of times. This book takes you on a tour of the city, offering glimpses into different neighborhoods and parks, with Ben on hand to give information you never knew you needed. By the end, I was ready to start job hunting and totally willing to pay my entire salary in rent.

Writing Update: Should I Write Short Stories?

Happy New Year!

What better way to start the year than with a writing update?

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My biggest hurdle in writing is, well, writing. Physically sitting down and writing the words and finishing the first draft have been freaking hard. I was expecting it to be difficult but, damn.

So, Distractable Daisy that I am, I almost started writing a short story last week. I follow @writersofcolor on Twitter, and this week they shared a tweet from a new serial anthology, Foreshadow YA, looking to publish YA stories. So naturally, went to their website and read all about the requirements. They are accepting YA short stories, between 2-7k words. My interest was peaked!

Of course I can do this, right?

But after looking through my drive folder with all the stories I’ve started and stopped over the years, I just don’t have a short story.

That’s not true, I do have one but it’s 150% not YA, like not even a little bit. So I opened a document and did some “free-typing” to see if I could come up with anything I would able to write in a month and send in #yikes.

The short answer is that I didn’t come up with anything. I think there is an art to short stories, one I have not thought about or practiced enough to attempt writing one just for the chance to have it published. None of the characters and situations fluttering about my brain can be conveyed in so few letters.

I once heard, or read I can’t quite remember, that short stories ask ‘what if?’ I think full-length novels do that as well, but with a short story all the strings have to be tied up pretty damn quickly, and I don’t know that I can tackle that in a couple of weeks.

So no, I don’t believe that I will be writing short stories anytime soon. Maybe I’ll submit something later this year… Besides, I have full-length things to work on.

Yes, that was things. Plural. I was looking in the mirror and talking to myself last week (as you do) and I came up with a whole story I really want to write in a setting I’ve been dying to set a story in. So I wrote that first burst of words I had relating to it. Then, while I was in the shower, some characters and a whole conversation and scene came to me. Magic I tell ya! Too bad I haven’t written it down….I should work on that.

I always have these moment s of distraction from the stories I want to tell and I think it’s because writing is such a solitary activity, and being published feels like validation. It is, in many ways but I think I have to stay true to my goals here, at least for now.

I hope you have a wonderful 2018 filled with all the things you want to do. Thank you for reading.

Word Counts:
Space Project: 12,656 words
Sand: 250 (She’s still a baby)

Come find me on Instagram: @throwabook

Checkout the new serial anthology Foreshadow YA

Follow @WritersofColor on Twitter

Catch ya next time!

Six(ish) Books I am Excited to Read in 2018

Hi everyone! With the end of the year upon us, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I want to read in the next year. First, I decided I won’t be doing a Goodreads challenge. I haven’t hit my goal of 40 the last few years, and I don’t feel like forcing it.

The biggest change is that I want to read more books in the NA/Adult categories. I got a taste with N.K. Jemisin and Gillian Flynn this year and absolutely LOVED those books. I’m making this a big theme for 2018  because as a writer I think exploring writing geared toward different age groups is important, and I want to read about people my age or just adults. While YA tackles tons of heavy and “risque” topics, I want a little more from books and I think stories written for an older demographic will have that.

Btw, I am definitely reading the big YA releases next year!

I’ve keeping my eyes and ears open these past few weeks, and spent some time browsing Goodreads for some books to add to my list.

In no particular order, here is what I’m excited to read next year:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

   little firesI’ve been seeing this book everywhere and I get a very Big Little Lies vibe from the description so that’s an automatic yes!  Little Fires is set in a perfectly planned suburb where Elena Richardson lives with her family. Then Mia Warren, an eclectic artist type, moves into the neighborhood and becomes close to the Richardsons’ children. Then, a couple’s attempts to adopt a Chinese-American baby sets off a custody battle.

I’m not sure how that last sentence relates to everything else, but I’m so excited to find out.

Checkout the full description on Goodreads here.

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

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I feel like Stephenie Meyer was our gateway drug to books. Well, if you’re around my age, anyway. I haven’t read The Host, and I wasn’t planning on reading this until a coworker recommended it to me.

The main character, a former agent of the U.S. Government, is on the run from her former employers trying to kill her. I mean…it sounds like gender-bent Jason Bourne sooo there’s not much else I need to know.

Full description here

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre

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This book looks so good! It’s about a famous author who’s lied to the police and her family to keep a secret. She’s ready to tell her story and whatever this secret is may very well kill her.

This sounds amazing, can’t wait to get my hands on this!

Full description here.

The 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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This books just looks fabulous. Really, just look at it! Seven Husbands is the story of Evelyn Hugo, an Elizabeth Taylor-esque starlet who’s chosen Monique, a down-in-the-dumps reporter, to tell her story. As she spends time with Ms. Hugo, Monique realizes that their lives “intersect in tragic and irreversible ways.”

Tbh, this doesn’t sound like something I would usually read. I find flashbacks tedious and boring a lot of times, but again this came highly recommended and I’m supposed to be trying new things so it’s happening. I’ll be sure to report back on how this goes.

Full Description here.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

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What I really mean, is I want to finish the last four books. Reading these have been super fun this year and I’m excited to keep it going!

I’m going to be getting sorted on Pottermore pretty soon. Would you like to see?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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I’ll be honest here, I’m more excited to say I’ve read this book than to actually read it. I say that because I started it this year (2017) and I’ve made some decent progress, I just couldn’t finish it! It’s so damned difficult and wordy, which is characteristic of these kind of books but I really want to finish this. Even if I have to read it in 2 page bursts.

I. will. conquer. this. book.

What are you reading next year?

Find me on Instagram @throwabook

My Top 5 in 2017: Books

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Category One: “The Fucking Greatest.”

The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

These 3 books–The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky–were hands down the absolute best damn books I’ve read this year. Maybe ever. I had heard of Jemisin before, in the YA pool I’m usually in her most famous series is The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Well, more famous may not exactly be accurate since the first two books of The Broken Earth have each won the Hugo for best novel. Anyway, I knew about Kingdoms, and I honestly stumbled upon The Fifth Season on Libby and thought I’d give it a try on my commute.  It. Was. AMAZING! Unlike anything I have ever read before and it’s partially told in 2nd person. These books are marvellous, sexy, diverse AF while exploring complex relationships. All of that in one of the most magnificent Sci-Fi worlds I have ever read.

5 of the youngest brightest stars for these!

Category Two: “Oh, you thought Gone Girl was terrifying?”

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

This books at its heart is a mystery. There’s a murder in a reporter’s old town and she’s sent to investigate. But as the layers of her town are peeled back it’s more and more obvious that something rotten is going. At the end, I was left questioning whether sanity was a thing. In my Goodreads review, I said there was something deeply unhealthy about this book and a few months later, I maintain that position. Part of me is glad I listened to this on Audible because I’m pretty sure just having the book in my room would give me nightmares.

Category Three: “The series that surprised me.”

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

I’ve seen these books around for while on Booktube and Goodreads and Tumblr but never paid them much attention. I read all three books this summer and I was astounded by how great they were! I read them after The Broken Earth Trilogy when I needed some high caliber writing and this was exactly that. This series made me think and it was fun, romantic, and full of badass women. What more can you ask for?

Category Four: “The one that saved the series.”

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

I read Red Queen when it came out a few years ago and I thought it was alright but I generally didn’t want to keep going. Well, I suddenly found myself without a book this a couple weeks ago and it was available on Libby so I started listening and it completely blew the first book out of the water. I finished it in a few days and read Kings Cage right after. Mare’s growth made sense and the world’s expansion was so interesting. From reading other reviews, people really enjoyed getting to know more about Evangeline but I found her kind of boring….😬 Otherwise, series is great so far can’t wait to read the wrap up next year!! < strong>Category five: “Can you ever be just ‘whelmed’?”

A Court of Wings and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Trash for this trash series. Ok, it’s not trash…I’ll call it indulgent. It’s just so much fun and book 2 was SPECTACULAR so it was always going to be a tough act to follow. Whenever you’re super excited about something it’s probably going to fall short. I didn’t have many issues with this book except that I wanted a bit more grit. A lot of it felt like setup for the upcoming novels/novellas which sucked because I went into this thinking it was the last one. But! SJM books are always a trip and I had fun.

The MVP of 2017: Audiobooks
Audiobooks saved me this year. More specifically, Libby the app that connects to your library card and allows you to check out audio and ebooks. Absolutely love it!

What did you love reading this year?

Fine tuning

Happy December and Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!

I’ve been thinking about a few different things the last couple days. Since my last post, I finished two books and started reading two. That Goodreads goal isn’t going to reach itself, is it?

I worked on my novel a bit more, last I checked I was at 8400 words!

Mainly, I’ve been thinking about what to put up here. There were a few ideas that I started but none felt quite right. They all read too whiny. Of course, this is my blog and I can put whatever I want on here, but I don’t want to just whine…what’s the point in that? Well, it would be an outlet for me but basically useless to you so…no.

I said in the first post that I am still trying to figure out what this blog is, so that’s what’s happening.

First lesson: I want readers to get something more than a dose of bitching from me. I’d like to add value to your life, make you think a little if I can.

I’m working on the next few posts now: Favorite Books of 2017 and My Reading Goals for 2018. Maybe a Christmas Guide?

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, how’s December/Christmas planning going? My tree doesn’t have ornaments yet but I already bought gifts for two people!