Thursday, July 14, 2016

A little bit of love will go a long way

·     * I want to preface this by saying I am not a world leader.  I am not a religious official. I am not a member of authority or power. I am a girl, behind a computer, scared.

       2016 is probably the worst year I’ve lived. I’ve lived through 9/11. I’ve lived through New Orleans. I’ve lived through countless shootings and deaths and tragedies. But I was too young. This year, things are really starting to stick with me.

The world is scary. But I’m scared for the world. Yes, of course, horrified for people -- Us living in this world. But I’m concerned for us as humans. Our humanism. What makes us keep going. We’ve become desensitized to literal nightmarish attacks. High death tolls – “Well, at least it was less than insert tragedy.” 

It’s a routine. Something bad happens. It breaks on social media. We read and read and read. Political figures make statements – “We’ll offer aide.” It’s talked about, torn apart, analyzed, re-analyzed, conspiracy theories are thrown in and out like a dodgeball game. Then the world slips into quiet lull for a day or two.

And then the cycle repeats.

Doesn’t that terrify you? Doesn’t that make you sick to your very core that after you’ve calmed down and accepted what happened, another one gets blown off the charts and you have to restart your equilibrium again.

And I hate how selfish this is sounding. I hate that I’m like “Wah, I’m scared.” There are people that are living through HELL.

I’m writing this more for myself. I don’t know what I’m feeling so I’m just going to talk, if that’s okay.

We’re scared to go to large crowd events. We’re scared to go to the movies. To a club. School. Public transportation. Church.

It’s a constant murmur. Fear ripples through the world, the darkness casting harrowing shadows on our day to day, paralyzing us into a constant state of paranoia. It makes us jump to conclusions and opinions that are backed by nothing other than hate. Fear brings out the worst in us.

I’m not sure what the answer is. But, no matter who and what is killed, no matter how much “man power” we have, no matter how many airstrikes, raids, captures, wars we have, it won’t end. Hate won’t end. I’m sorry, it won’t. Fighting hate with hate will only spawn more and more anger, fury, power struggles. HATE.

We have to combat it. Ourselves. Sure, you can’t rationalize with an extremist. I’m not telling you to go and sit down with ISIS and give them a lesson on “being kind to your neighbor.” 

I’m also not sympathizing with these attackers. I’m not here to defend them. I’m not here to save them.

But a person isn’t born with hate. It needs to be coddled, fermented, and spawned. Fear wraps its tendrils around the weak and manipulates them into puppets.

I’ve been trying to be less judgmental and spiteful. Less angry and annoyed. People are fighting their own battles. So, instead of taking it back out on someone who’s taking it out on me, just take it in stride. There’s no need for anger. There’s no need for hate.

Yeah, call me an idealist. I am.

I’m tired of reading about death and destruction. I’m tired of innocent lives being lost. I’m tired of racism and xenophobia. I’m tired of being scared. I’m tired of wanting to help but feeling incredibly useless and helpless.

Where is our future? Where are we headed? We’re spiraling downwards and crashing into the bloodiest domino game we’ve ever played.

I reached for one of my favorite books, Yes Please by Amy Poehler tonight. In it, she discussed her time in Haiti as well as the violence that’s slathered across the world.

“People are very bad and very good. A little love goes a long way.”

So as we learn more about the tragedies in France, maybe, let’s all put a little more love in our day. A little more strength to our neighbor. A little more positivity in our brain. A little more light in our souls.

Because we’re all humans. We all need love. We all need a shoulder to lean on.

Project love. Project positivity. Project growth and understanding.

I love you very much and I want you to know are very loved.  A little bit of it will go along way.

- Music and words lift me up when I need wings. These help me, I hope they help you. -

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Birthdays, or, the intrepid walk into the unknown and the icy, crippling fear of failure… and all that follows.

I turned 22. To some, I am old (hello, younger cousins, does your mom know you know how to work the Internet? Who am I kidding, you know how to work the internet better than her.) To others, I’m naught but a tiny baby, scrabbling to pretend to be an adult, with my “pretend” job and life and my raw, ruddy cheeks and your patronizing small nods and “knowing” smiles. But, I love you and your Wisdom. Bestow it upon me, oh Wise Ones.

But actually. Please help me, grownups.

But whaddup, world. I can relate to another Taylor Swift song. Booyah. +1 Abby. 21 was a weird year. I started my ascent into legality by waking up with The Worst Hangover Of My Life. Literally. I thought I would never reach sobriety ever again. I’ll spare you the grim details, but the soundtrack of my night was Shots by LMFAO ft. Lil Jon and my morning tune was Cacophony in the Key of My Mother Screaming At Me. Also, it was Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I just vomited on myself.

Annnyyyyways, 21 brought in a slew of Things. Firstly, I was just starting in the Wide World of Media. A tiny, baby journalist, clinging for dear life to a press badge and an iPhone, constantly fearing the jig was up and I gotta get out of the press area, you small child. That never happened. But! I did get over my fear and have (almost) mastered the art of confidently acting like I’m Supposed To Be Here. Even if I’m surrounded by a zillion important people in suits and real cameras and I’m swinging around my tiny Canon. Bring it on, Edward R. Murrow Winners. I’m a millennial. You wish you were me. You want to capture me. I hold the secrets! I know about the Internet! I have all the social medias! Betcha never learned that in fancy journalism school! Ha!

4 the 412 has been this crazy adventure that I found myself on where I get to do things I like and get paid for it. And it’s hard. Bear with me. This job has been working my creativity muscle until it’s pulsating and numb. It’s draining and exhausting and I’ve spiraled into pits of complete creator’s block. Nothing seemed to work. I couldn’t figure it out. Hell, there were days where I turned on the camera and stared blankly into it, opening and closing my mouth like a beached fish desperate for air, squishing my eyebrows together to make my brain work. But through this, I learned that creativity is my backbone. I can take something and spin it and weave it into something that tells a story. Pittsburgh may be small, but it is deep. It is rich and flowing with people, places, ideas that deserve attention. They deserve me to unfasten the light dangling above my head and shove it towards them. It’s okay if I struggle with ideas sometimes, because, PLOT TWIST, I’m not perfect. I can pretend that this job is Always! Fun! And! Exciting! And! Easy! But it’s not. And that’s okay. It’s okay because I enjoy it.

Then I graduated college and started school again 12 days later.

Grad school has been this weird (as you can see, my adjectives have also aged with me) place where I'm surrounded by people who know what they want and are creating incredible things that are setting them up for the rest of their lives.

And I'm the new girl in the back going, “yeah, but, have you heard of the Internet, guys?”

I've finally had the realization that maybe I'm struggling to find energy and excitement in this program because it's not what I want to do. “Shock!” cried the readers. Yeah, same, guys. I love film and how a story can make people feel and think and literally be changed for life. A good film (even a bad film) will leave a lasting impression. You can never unsee it. I can appreciate a beautiful shot or an unconventional editing practice. However, I can't do it. I have the story but when it comes to implementing it, I struggle. I am frustrated at the time and care I need to appease professors and stay at pace with my incredible, talented fellow classmates. And to be honest, it's tiring. I don't have the passion or drive to make these films. Production leaves me in a slump. But, I do have the story.

I can melt over beautifully crafted words that will grip me on the heart and brain and squeeze and squeeze, leaving me breathless and flustered. Words are powerful. My power exists at the light touch of ink to paper and not behind plastic and lenses (metaphorically of course because my hand cramps up if I write too long #Tbh.) I've always reached to writing when every other form escapes me. It's like my brain and fingers are running in a heat faster than my mouth. My mouth is always lagging behind, tripping over itself time and time again to stay even slightly near my brain. So I write. I write it down and keep going and going until I need to stop and proofread because the sentences seem to keep going on and on and on and I forget how they started or what I was even talking about or the proper punctuation what is a run on sentence?

Okay. Prepare yourself for some insightful words from a confused and lost 20-something, also known as Every Blogger On The Internet.

I feel lost. I still don't know what I want to do. “No one knows what they want to do!” says you, knowing Wise One, my elder. But, you whimsical, jolly, wizard man with your scraggly beard (I’m sorry, I'm just envisioning you as Dumbledore right now). But. That's terrifying. I can't not know. I need things guaranteed. And I'm having a lot of problems with this Life thing where I can't guarantee anything. I'm running circles around myself, trying to outdo my past self. Do more! Work harder! It's not enough! It's never enough! Don't sleep!

But, I recently heard a quote from one of my heroes that literally brought this out of control train that is my life to a complete hault.  

I need to work hard. I need to keep jumping, climbing, crawling towards the Top. But, in the same vein, I need to enjoy life. Life, this beautiful paradox. Life, this messy, fantastic chance. It's hard, sometimes, to see the bigger picture and realize, hey, things can be worse. But you have to try. Otherwise you'll drive yourself into the ground. Unhappiness. Dissatisfaction. Fear. Why should these define me?

Okay, I'm taking off my wizard cap and stepping off my soap box.

The point I'm trying to make is in 22 I'm opening myself up to chances and listening to instincts rather than extensively thought out and vigilant career moves like a chess game (I do not know how to play chess.)

I miss theater. So I'm going to get back into theater.

I'm tired. So I'm going to listen to my body and maybe chill for like, a sec.

I have thoughts. So I'm going to write them down.

I’m not sure where I'll be this time next year. A graduate degree down, in tow with a fancy little beret and another polyester gown. I don't know where my career will be. I don't know where I'll be living. Some things I can guarantee: I will be short; I will be addicted to coffee; I will still enjoy petting dogs. But the rest? Who knows. And that's scary. I'm scared. BUT! That's life. Life isn't chess; it’s Jenga.

Hi, welcome to my 22nd year. Hope you'll be apart of it.

I love you.

Monday, July 27, 2015

“Supporting other women is very fashionable and it never goes out of style.” - Terri McCullough

My body and head are still reeling from my short and sweet but jam-packed weekend in New York City for the 4th annual Her Conference.

If you didn’t know that I write (and run social media) for Pitt’s Her Campus chapter let me tell you… I write for Pitt’s Her Campus chapter and run the social media. And if you don’t know what Her Campus is… WHY???

Her Campus is this wonderful and amazing online magazine that spawns from a national site, and branches out to chapters all across the world at different universities. After (attempting) to start a chapter at John Carroll (which they now have, yay!) I dove headfirst into HC Pitt my sophomore year… and I couldn’t be happier.

Not only have I met the most amazing girls on the team, some, whom I’m lucky enough to call my friends, I’ve really adjusted in my writer’s skin. I was able to toy with different voices and styles and have them read and absorbed, without receiving a grade. Now that’s a good deal. Before I even graduate, I can say I am a published author. How cool!

So, we packed up and drove from Pittsburgh to the Big Apple on Friday for my first ever conference, and the 2nd trip to the city that tugged on my heartstrings the last time I left it.
A photo posted by Abby Stubenbort (@abbystubenbort) on

The conference itself was SO COOL.

I attended panels like, “Does the Devil Really Wear Prada?: Life in an Entry Level Editorial Position” and “Freelancing Fiends: Life outside the 9-5” and “Beyond the ‘Like’: Careers in Social Media.” The panelists were smart and loved their jobs and really helped us get a good look at their careers.

I listened to speakers like Neha Gandhi, VP of editorial strategy of Refinery 29, who gave us tips on how to progress our careers and navigate ourselves to success.
I sat amazed listening to Terri McCullough of No Ceilings, as she sentence after sentence encouraged us to take a stand and support each other to have feminism reach a global level of equality.

I was lucky enough to attend a panel where one of my favorite Cosmo writers, Amy Odell, was a panelist. Amy completely revolutionized Cosmopolitan’s website and I even wrote a piece on it last year. She’s what you can say are my #careergoals. It was my mini star-struck moment of the weekend. (Sadly, no Vanessa Hudgens or Taylor Swift sightings, the OG Queens of New York.)

I even met Carly and Nessa of Girl Code, both hilarious and absolutely, teeth-achingly sweet.
A photo posted by Abby Stubenbort (@abbystubenbort) on
Women are amazing. Every woman that spoke left my heart beating fast and my hands twitching, wanting to start moving forward, to hit the ground and sprint towards the top of my career. My notes are a scrambled mess of purple lines zigging and zagging around the page haphazardly because my pen couldn’t keep up because I wanted to write down everything they were saying. Their words are my bible.

Entertainment and media is a tough field. You need to hustle. You need to work. You need to strive to be the best of the best... but sometimes it’s not enough. Lisa Arbetter, editor of People StyleWatch told us, “Some people are just smarter than you. They just are.” And you need to accept it and move on. Life is going to keep moving.

I learned so much this weekend. I gained so much insight on the careers potentially ahead of me and how to get there. I learned tricks and techniques to make me stand out in a crowd. But most importantly, I learned about my self-worth.

Being surrounded by these influential and smart women that are my age and are willing to improve themselves and the world, made me feel so inspired. I want to write more. I want to improve myself. I want to be the best version of myself.

I want to thank Her Campus for giving me the opportunities that they have, without even knowing.

 I cannot wait for my future. And I hope you’ll come along with me.