If you want something to happen, you have to make it happen.

I realized I never gave an update on graduate school, but I am here to tell you and be candid with you per usual, it has been hard, especially during these uncertain times. Yes, we are living in a pandemic, and I am still following Emerson’s hybrid education model. It is extremely difficult getting back and forth to Boston every Wednesday! Sometimes I wish I only took two classes instead of a whopping three, but that is just the overachiever in me. But everyday I wake up, and I am utterly thankful that I actually get to go to graduate school, that I actually have a laptop that works, even without a battery… long story. Plus, my caffeine-addicted butt gets to enjoy a sip, or a couple hundred, of some caramel or pumpkin spice every stop I get. 

I am not here to complain, but it does get stressful. I get home late, but when I am not in Boston, I am working at my local Dollar Store. As I thought about my move four years ago, I couldn’t help but think that every “leap year” has its ups and downs – for some, they may seem like they only have their downsides. October is the worst of it. You can read my blog post Spooky Season = Anxiety Season? But despite what the ghosts of October tell me, I am not going to quit just because it’s that time of month or whatever. 

During this time last year in October, I wanted to move to the city. That was a bust from the get-go. I didn’t have a job outside of work-study, I didn’t know how to pay bills (I still don’t), and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be a lawyer, like I had planned then. Publishing was always secretly in the back of my mind. I didn’t really have a steady plan, to begin with – just hopes and dreams that I prayed would become a reality. I remember waking my mom up in the middle of the night after having a revelation that I would go into publishing, not law. Days later I was accepted at Emerson, and I went against my own will and bought Shiraz. Again, only you have the power to make your dreams a reality. 

How exactly do you make your dreams a reality, you may ask? 

  1.  A planner does wonders for your organization habits. If your current planner doesn’t already do wonders for you, get a new one! Picking the right planner is like picking the right bra. 
  2.  Start every morning with a mantra. Avoid saying “I hope today is a good day,” and start saying “I know today is a good day.” 
  3.  If you do decide to move like I tried to, look up Fresh Start – The Moving Crew.

Fresh Start – The Moving Crew does residential moving in Worcester County, and the company originates out of cities like Providence, Hartford, and Springfield. Their headquarters extends out of larger regions such as Berkshires, Cape Cod, Long Island, Manhattan, New Jersey, and even the White Mountains! They do furniture moving, commercial moving, residential moving, and even packing! 

Fresh Start

Maybe I am just craving that fresh start to my already-fresh-start that is grad school. There were times where I have debated moving to Paris with very minimal French in my foreign language vocabulary. There were times where I have genuinely thought about dropping out of school, but that would mean losing everything I originally wanted to achieve. I didn’t come this far to give up my dreams of working in a big ol’ publishing company. Your dreams really do deserve to be achieved. Do I even need to include a gif of Shia LeBeouf? (If you know, you already know!) When I do make the move to the city in the near future, I will be sure to call up Fresh Start and book my moving appointment. 

Moral of the story: you can whine in your blog posts all you want. You can try to manifest your desires using water, or whatever. You can pray all you want, but the thing is: if you want something to happen, YOU have to put in the work. YOU have to put in the mass amount of effort it takes to move, start your own business, and get the grades you want. 

How Airbnb and Travelers are Redefining Travel in 2021

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on travel in 2020. As we look to 2021, these impacts will continue to be felt in a number of ways. Firstly, continued remote working, and in some cases remote schooling, will upend traditional vacation seasons and blur the lines between working and traveling. Secondly, safety and cleanliness will continue to be top of mind for travelers, driving a preference for private, entire homes over crowded hotels. Thirdly, international travel, especially long haul, will continue to be impacted and finally, having been isolated for much of 2020, people will want to use travel to reconnect with friends and family in safe and controlled ways.

In 2021, travel will continue to be less about tourism and more about living, working and connecting safely away from home. Airbnb is ideally suited to meet these changing needs, whether providing an entire home to take a break from the city, to reconnect with loved ones or to try out a new neighborhood to move to. And its platform allows anyone with space to share to tap into these trends and earn some extra needed income.

 Based on commissioned survey data of US travelers and an analysis of search and booking data for next year, Airbnb is revealing the top three trends redefining travel in 2021:

 Live Anywhere – Taking Life on the Road

In 2021, work from home could become work from any home as remote working continues to be a reality for many people. In the survey commissioned by Airbnb*:

 ●           83 percent of respondents are in favor of relocating as part of remote working.

●        A quarter believe they will be able to ‘live where they want to and work remotely’.

●        One in five of those surveyed have relocated their living situation during the pandemic either temporarily or permanently.

●        60 percent of parents are very or somewhat likely to consider working remotely and traveling with their children if schools continue to be disrupted.

●        Unsurprisingly, Gen Z’ers and young millennial are most likely to believe they can move to a new location to work or study remotely.

One of the ways travelers are taking advantage of this trend is trying before they buy–turning to Airbnb to test new neighborhoods and cities before making a long-term commitment. From July to September this year, there has been a 128 percent increase in guest reviews mentioning “relocation”, “relocate”, “remote work” and “trying a new neighborhood” in comparison to the same time frame last year.

 Of folks who have relocated since the pandemic was declared, 24 percent of them say they moved to a suburb and 21 percent to a rural area, both greater percentages than those who say they moved to cities.* And on Airbnb,  people who have the opportunity to work from anywhere are actively booking longer stays (2+ week trips) in small-to-mid-size cities with access to immersive natural surroundings and wide open spaces, including these trending destinations below. 

●        Park City, Utah

●        Truckee, California

●        Steamboat Springs, Colorado

●        Durham, North Carolina

●        Santa Fe, New Mexico

●        Boise, Idaho

●        Richmond, Virginia

●        Greenville, South Carolina

●        Indianapolis, Indiana

●        Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Redefining the Staycation

As uncertainty persists, domestic travel will continue to be a key trend in 2021, with 62 percent of people interested in taking a vacation within driving distance of home.* Looking back at September 2019 for trip planning in 2020, for US guests, cities like Paris, London and Rome were all top destinations. Next year, a range of domestic locations in national parks, winter ski and beach towns are becoming the most popular, perhaps showing a departure from regular seasonal travel, and a preference for traditional vacation getaway destinations year-round. Some of the top spots include:

●        Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

●        Breckenridge, Colorado

●        Davenport, Florida

●        Palm Springs, California

●        Tulum, Mexico

 Although most travel will remain closer to home in 2021, that doesn’t mean travelers aren’t having new, exciting adventures where they’re staying. Guests are expanding their horizons and seeking unique travel experiences by staying in one-of-a-kind stays on Airbnb. The top trending space types among US travelers next year include a variety of spaces known for using less energy and producing less waste, including:

●        Treehouses

●        Yurts

●        Barns

●        Cycladic houses

●        Domes

The shift to more remote and socially-distanced stays is also reflected in some of the top booked space types. Entire homes have officially replaced apartments as the top space type among guests in 2021, providing controlled, private space for everyone. More off the beaten path stays like cabins and cottages crack the top five space types for 2021 trips, replacing villas and townhouses from 2020.

The Rise of Pod Travel

2020 has made the craving for fundamental human connection very real, and this resonates in how people are thinking about travel in 2021. In fact, relocating permanently or temporarily to live close to family is favored by 85 percent of survey respondents.* And, families are increasingly turning to Airbnb as a way to safely reconnect: over the summer, there were three times more wish lists including family in the title than last summer, and that trend has continued to increase with more than 2.5 times the inclusions this September compared to last year. 

 Whether it means traveling to be close to family members, or reuniting to quarantine with a group of friends, “pod” travel is here to stay for those who want to safely be together while reducing risks associated with socializing with others. For those who have voluntarily relocated this year, 37 percent say it was to be close to family or friends – the most common reason given.* This has become increasingly popular with younger generations, with 61 percent of under-50-year-olds interested in permanently moving and 47 percent interested in temporarily moving to be closer to loved ones.* And on Airbnb, over half of trips searched for next year include three or more people, showing how people are traveling together.

For those who are not hitting the open road, they can still connect with loved ones while apart through Online Experiences. And groups are already finding unique ways to share special moments together, from preparing home-cooked authentic meals, to putting their minds together in virtual scavenger hunts, to sparking their curiosity and creativity through drawing. Some of the most popular Online Experiences groups are taking together from October to the end of 2020 include: 

●        Living Room Legends Scavenger Hunt Game (Austin, Texas)

●        True vs False’ Funny Historical Game (Athens, Greece)

●        Cook Mexican Street Tacos with a Pro Chef (Mexico City, Mexico)

●        Drawn from Within with a New York Artist (New York City, New York)

●        Family Magic Show and Magic Lesson (Chiyoda City, Japan)

Planning for the Future

While travel might look a little different in 2021, future adventures are keeping travelers inspired, with 36 percent of respondents saying they daydream about travel daily or more, increasing to 47 percent amongst people who work from home.* Our research also shows that despite the uncertainty that continues to pervade people’s lives, the more they stay at home, the more the thought of getting out gives them confidence in the future. When asked how planning for a future trip makes them feel, the most selected answer by respondents was simply: hopeful.*

Though travel restrictions are still in place, US travelers are still dreaming of their next far flung adventure, as reflected in the top trending destinations by search for trips in 2021. When the pandemic is over and travel restrictions begin to lift, travelers may be heading to vibrant cultural hubs, idyllic island clusters, and ethereal natural wonders first.

 With Copa América postponed to 2021, soccer fans are eyeing Bogotá, a sophisticated urban metropolis also playing host to one of the final games of the tournament. On the heels of having the top awarded film of the year and the meteoric rise of K-pop, Seoul, South Korea is inspiring US guests to one day experience this dynamic cultural capital themselves. Having to push its 200th birthday celebrations back a year, the state of Maine’s bicentennial events and cozy, quaint vibes are inspiring potential trips in 2021. And after months of spending a lot of time indoors, it’s clear island vacations and escapes to wide open spaces are keeping travelers daydreaming. From the white sand beaches of Maafushi in the Maldives, to the enchanting red peaked landscape of Taos, to the striking Italian island town of Ischia (known for its thermal spas), US guests’ worldly travel aspirations are alive and well:

●        Bogotá, Colombia

●        Seoul, South Korea

●        Hampton, London

●        Tisbury, Massachusetts

●        Maafushi, Maldives

●        Maine, US

●        Salon-de-Provence, France

●        Taos County, New Mexico

●        La Misión, México

●        Ischia, Italy

*Based on a survey commissioned by Airbnb and conducted by ClearPath Strategies from September 15-19, 2020 of 1,010 US adults.

“This Is Not Going To Be Perfect. It’s Going To Be Powerful.”

Investing in yourself is not only important, but it can also be insanely expensive. This is the second paycheck I’ve gone through (almost completely) to follow my dreams. Yes, I actually have a job that’s not writing-related that actually pays me. No, I do not get paid to write, though I wish I did. I bet that was a shock to you folx.

Moreover, one of the things I invested in, ($179 a month to be exact) is a book-writing class. After getting out of our weekly ZOOM session today, I found myself in the midst of a conversation about the archangel of anxiety: perfection. I preached in a previous blog post, EMPOWER NOT TOWER: “Go big or go home?” Is it really worth sucking on bone marrow? , more or less that perfection isn’t worth losing yourself over.

I can’t help but wonder, why am I so afraid of judgment if I don’t strive to be perfect? The simple answer is: I get judged either way. I shouldn’t say “I,” I should say “we [get judged.]”

I’m the only one in that book writing class who’s still in her twenties. In fact, my twenties are just getting started with me venturing into grad school. What’s funny about that, is public transportation is completely foreign to me, as are some parts of Boston. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, as you all know, but my carefree years took place in small towns. I was completely oblivious to looking both ways before crossing the street. (My kindergarten teacher would not be proud.) In a similar way, I’ve become oblivious to having a plan set out for my book. I confessed today that the “sandwiching” doesn’t work for me. Again, as you all know, I’m like an ocean — choppy and free-flowing… and with a whole lot of depths to my story. So there.

There’s that string of poetry in Jessie J’s “Masterpiece,” those who mind don’t matter/those who matter don’t mind. I’ve lived by those lyrics since my senior year of high school. Those same lyrics apply to those who I am trying to help with my book. Essentially what I mean by that, is (and this goes for all of you future authors out there) your soon-to-be biggest fans/readers are not going to care if you’re some sort of grammar wizard. What they care about, is that you helped them. Take Danielle Bernstein for example. I saw many publishing errors throughout her book, but I still loved her story about how she became a household name in the fashion industry, and among influencers. Her book helped me build “The April Diaries'” baby sister, Candidly Worn. (Yes, I threw in a little self-promo.)

What we concluded with today was this phrase: “This [your story] is not going to be perfect. It’s going to be powerful.”

Every story is different, and you have one to tell!

EMPOWER NOT TOWER: Stop judging and observe.

I remember when I first got a Facebook account, I put Britney Spears’ “Circus” lyrics in my bio: “There’s only two types of people in the world, the ones that entertain and ones that observe.” At the time I put that as my bio at the time not because I was a “budding performer,” but I was constantly feeling “watched.” No, I was not paranoid. However, the unwonted attention actually fed my ego. I wrote it off as jealousy.

I was talking to my manicurist today, and she was telling me how her sweet daughter (though I haven’t met her, she seems like a true gift from God) was bullied for being both smart and athletic. This young woman earned MVP in Lacrosse, Soccer, and Basketball. Impressive right? The parents of other kids were so green with envy to the point where one parent called her a “stupid bitch” on the sidelines. My initial reaction was not just “that’s horrible!” but I did mention how in my old town in Massachusetts, the parents talked more smack about the kids than the kids actually did. And I’m NOT the first person to say that, which is the funny part. But nonetheless, what right does someone have to say such a thing about someone else’s kid?

This made me wonder: why do we live in a world where we constantly judge/are being judged. Why can’t we just simply observe?

Seriously. Let people go on about their daily business. It’s easy to be so quick to judge, but it’s a habit that you can break with ease. I learned how to do it within an hour after watching this video by Isabel Palacios. Like I said in my last post, you are entitled to your opinion without being an a-hole. There’s a huge difference.

Observe because you don’t know what that person is going through internally. Don’t judge because you’re only hurting that person’s self-image and self-love. Don’t say that’s “their problem.” You may feel entitled to judge, but that judgment is fueled by your own insecurities.

I was so angry, I couldn’t write.

I couldn’t write. I couldn’t find the words appropriate enough to describe my anger. I was, and still am, angry at the ignorance, racism, xenophobia, trans-phobia, and everything else that’s BEEN plaguing our society for CENTURIES, even more so than COVID-19. I couldn’t even find a filter for this thumbnail to hide the rash that broke out on my face just now.

I am furious.

My “philosophy,” or I guess “wisdom” behind this, is that if you’re not angry, you’re just not paying attention. Period. And if you’re not “political,” you’re not paying attention.

I can be as angry as I was prior to writing this. Hey, I can write, after all! So, what do I do? I take small steps. 🦶🏼

This includes posting stories to Instagram, writing posts like these, but more importantly, sticking up for what is right and fighting against what is unjust. Four words: do the right thing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But there’s a difference between having an opinion and just being an a-hole.

But as I reflect on my own behavior on social media, I realize there were a lot of things that could’ve been left unsaid, especially when I was in high school. We make mistakes — all of us. We get angry, we then regret, and some of us have the empathy to say “I’m sorry,” even if it takes months to find the words. However, the things left unsaid could be either unnecessary, or they could be uncomfortable. And the thing about the discomfort is that it helps us to grow. Even the most uncomfortable conversations are the ones worth having. I’ve known people, and I’ve been the one to cry when they get mad. But that’s when you know you’re, again, doing the right thing.

It’s okay to cry and feel when you’re sticking up for what’s right, especially when it’s for another person or for yourself.

xoxo,

April 💕

Losing a phone cannot compare to the lives lost to police brutality

I never thought I could live without my phone, until roughly two weeks ago when my phone kicked the bucket.

However, I want to speak out on what has been going on in our country. Normally I would take a week to write a blog post, but I muted my social media accounts only to amplify Black voices and to raise awareness. The last time I used my blog for something political was Trump’s election in 2016. Click here. Something else you should know about me is that you may allow me to consider your opinion(s), and who knows? Maybe I might. I’m considered a pretty open-minded individual. Moreover, you cannot take away my voice. So here I am.

The April Diaries does not tolerate bigots, racists, etc. Period. That is how I was raised and I was raised not only liberally, but also to do the right thing. I grew up in 20 out of my 24 years of life in a small, predominantly white town with very little diversity. I was actually shocked to find out that my small hometown actually hosted a rally in defense of BLM. For those of you saying that the protests haven’t been “doing much,” it actually accomplished a lot. It reopened Breonna Taylor’s case, and four officers were arrested for the senseless murder of George Floyd.

Nonetheless, even when I was small, I did not question once whether or not a boy or a girl, a man or woman were of a different colored skin. What mattered to me was that they were human, and they were living and breathing. I’ve been saying prayers for ambulances rushing by since I was in kindergarten, and before that phrase became popular on social media. Who knew Black lives would be taken years after that, if not during my adolescence and I just didn’t hear about it?

I may not be able to fully understand, but I stand, see, and speak with those who are victims of injustice.

What I wish I knew before starting college

As some of you may know, I am officially a college grad. It feels so surreal because I’ve been in school since I was 5! As I write this I remember going into my prospective preschool with my Molly doll from “The Big Comfy Couch.” I also remember going to preschool and kindergarten every day with painted nails and perfume on. Funny how things come full circle, eh? I’m no pretentious ditz, like people made me out to be in middle school. More importantly, how marketed myself. If you haven’t read Getting Real About Fitting In. SPOILER: Standing Out Is So Much Better I highly suggest you do, because it’s more or less of a “Wish I’d known then what I know now.” In fact, my post grad life has been a “wish I knew then what I know now.” This notion also pertains to college. Don’t get me wrong, my college experience was overall a fantastic experience, filled with growth, friends, memories, with a side of heartbreak(s), the inevitable college weight gain (which made me love my body more), and the big entree: transferring. The dessert? Self-love. Yet again, it is 100% natural to reflect.

What I wish I knew before I started college, and maybe some of you can relate, or at least learn from it include….

  1. Indulge in your creative side more, especially freshman year.
  2. If you can, go in undecided.
  3. Science and math in college are both hard.
  4. If you decide to tell people you’re switching your major, only tell your best friend and your parents.
  5. For Pete’s sake, don’t declare a major because you saw it in a dream.
  6. Taking a gap year is 100% okay. Again, wish I knew that!
  7. With that being said, if anyone has anything snarky to say about that, there’s that phrase, “those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind.”
  8. Even if you’re in college and you have to take a semester, or even a year off, that’s okay too!
  9. It’s okay to not have a boyfriend in your freshman year of college.
  10. Avoiding your ex isn’t worth starving yourself.
  11. Stick with learning a language, even if you’re totally FOREIGN to it. See what I did there? 😜 Learn Spanish AND French, if you want!
  12. Have someone who will tell you that you’re overdoing it with the drinks. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fun/funny drunk, someone still has to tell you.
  13. Put that elementary school health class knowledge to good use and keep it in the back of your mind that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  14. That means not getting in the car with someone who’s been drinking, letting someone walk you home, and not getting in the car with someone you met online for the first date.
  15. On that note, staying sober in college would be worth it. Easier said than done (thanks, peer pressure) but it’s totally fine.
  16. On another related note, if you’re dating someone and they’re “too tired” to walk you home, make them walk you home anyway and tell them to stop being a wuss.
  17. Don’t spend all your money on coffee, especially if you don’t have a meal plan.
  18. Again, on that note, there’s more to cafeteria food than pizza and salad.
  19. Don’t stay up late studying for an exam. That may have worked in high school, but in college? You’ll cherish sleep like no other, so that’s a NO.
  20. Practice your writing, it’ll help especially when you declare your major in an English-related field.
  21. Adverbs don’t belong at the beginning of a sentence.
  22. M.L.A and Chicago have a not-so estranged cousin: A.P.A. Don’t worry, it’s totally harmless.
  23. Yes, there are more than two pronouns. Get over it, bigots.
  24. Go to the gym outside of your gym. In fact, go to the gym period.
  25. You will learn what it’s like to be a “broke college student,” and yes you will have to explain yourself to people.
  26. There are some aspects of life you needn’t to explain. You know what those are.
  27. Don’t expect everyone to understand your circumstances.
  28. There WILL be people who misunderstand you and why you try to do. Prove them wrong and be ready to argue.
  29. Find a cause and be an advocate.
  30. Donating blood is fun and fulfilling!
  31. There will be a pandemic in your senior year of college that will cut your year short. Don’t worry, since I commute, I didn’t really miss much.
  32. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people. It’s not abnormal.
  33. You CAN do anything you set your mind to, even if it does take trial and error.

Does anybody like you when you’re 23? You have to love yourself, first

I guess this is a “for the girl about to turn 23” post. If you’re turning 22, click here. If you’re turning 21, click here. There’s that classic Blink 182 phrase, “nobody likes you when you’re 23.” However, it may seem like that, but I promise you it’s not true.

At 23 it’s as though people expect that you know what you want to do. I promise you it just seems that way, but it’s all about figuring out who you are! If you’re like me, you WILL go back and forth between law and publishing, only to decide that it’s been publishing even before you even transferred colleges.

I binge-watched the entire “Sex and the City” series, and I watched the final episode tonight, and I found myself reciting Carrie Bradshaw’s most famous line: “there are relationships that will take you unexpected places, there are relationships that will get you far from where you were, there are relationships that will take you home, but the most important relationship, is the one you have with yourself.” I think that’s the only quote that I memorized throughout that entire series besides “hello my name is fabulous.” These are both true for when you turn 23. It’s all about how you see yourself — not through other people’s eyes.

In just eight days, I turn 24, not to mention it’s officially GEMINI SEASON! So without further ado, here are 23 tips when you turn 23:

  1. You will want to/or explore going to graduate school. But if you don’t, that’s still okay.
  2. Watch “Wonder,” even if you read the book. It will change you, and you will relate to it in some way or another. Also, watch “Joker,” because it’ll give you another aspect of psychology, for all of you psych majors out there!
  3. Binge watch “Sex and the City,” no, I am not biased. It has hidden life lessons that will help you later on.
  4. Treat yourself to a shopping spree! This could be the last time unless you make bank and you have a steady job. Maybe after you’ve watched “Sex and the City” you’ll want a pair of her blue Manolo Blahniks.
  5. Go back to your roots. It could be bible-study, it could be going back to the country you were born in, or it could simply be the hobby you were born to make a career out of.
  6. Thank your fifth-grade teacher, even if they don’t reply to your email. They knew you better than any other teacher. If you’re graduating from college, thank your professors.
  7. If you’re in a non-related teaching field, you probably don’t want to go into teaching. I’m just telling you from someone who tried to explore that route.
  8. You will make friends on the internet, if you haven’t done so, already. Just be smart about it.
  9. You will be so thankful you didn’t end up with what you thought you wanted.
  10. Ambition is key to no matter what you do.
  11. Rachel from “Friends” will be the most relatable character from “Friends.” Yes, you will be watching that show a lot because adulting is hard.
  12. If you do choose to go to graduate school, pick whatever field you choose with no one’s influence — including your mom’s.
  13. Cry — it doesn’t matter how many times you cry this year, or how many people notice, just cry.
  14. This year is about staying true to YOU — no matter if you’re post-grad or just getting out of undergrad.
  15. If you are a newly-minted college grad, conGRADulations!
  16. Don’t listen to your brain after you’ve had an entire bottle of wine. Your wine-induced brain doesn’t know what the hell she/he is thinking. Besides, you’ll realize that drinking isn’t ostensibly so cool like you thought when you were 21.
  17. Again, it’s okay if you don’t have a “cool job” or internship, yet. You’ll get there with time, patience, and perseverance.
  18. Please let your loved ones know if you got home safely.
  19. Tell your loved ones “I love you,” and mean it.
  20. Especially in these times, go for a job on the front-lines, like working at a Veterans’ or Nursing Home.
  21. Your opinion on love will change, and it will be YOURS. In fact, all opinions will be yours, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You’ve learned, you’re educated, and you should make a cohesive argument by now.
  22. If you haven’t learned how to say “no” by now, it’s time.
  23. With that being said, speak up!

Well, nonetheless, welcome to your own Jordan Year, as I transition to my Kobe year. 🥂 Bottoms up. (BTW is a “Kobe year” even a thing?) Well, I’m making it a thing.

xoxo,

April 💕

To the Roger Williams University Class of 2020

On August 5, 2019, which seems like forever ago at this point in time, (given the turbulence 2020 brought us already before this very moment), the literary world and the world at large, lost an icon: Beloved author, Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison earned her B.A. at Howard University and her M.A. at Cornell University. She taught at multiple universities before finally retiring from Princeton. Just like any other author, she was full of quotes. One quote that I found while perusing the internet, struck a chord of truth within me: “I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.’”

I began to reflect on this quote and my experience at RWU, which all of you might be doing right this very second — on the day of our graduation. The thing about English Literature, that I have come to know when fulfilling my requirements for my Creative Writing degree, is that all characters struggle with an internal and/or external conflict. Most of the time, we focus on the external conflict surrounding the character, but no one pays attention to how and what the character is feeling – what is going on in their heads. That is, until we analyze or “pick apart,” as some of us said in Dr. Scheinberg’s “The Other Victorians” class. Why do authors even write these stories? The simple answer that I can give you, is to not only educate, but to inspire, or in Toni Morrison’s words, empower. As I listened to a Katy Bellotte podcast, I remembered that I randomly brought up my blog to a friend of mine in my art history class. One thing she asked me is if I ever get “Imposter Syndrome,” to which I said, “yes and no,” and went on to say that I used to want to be an influencer and promote all of these brands that I knew would never give me the time of day. But really, in a world where the universe relies on technology and overly edited photographs, I realized I want to influence people to be the best version of themselves. I want to be real, and not only say, “my name is April Federico, and I am a writer.”

I’m convinced that we all knew what we wanted to be when we grew up when we were at least eight years old, if not infants. For me, this was shown in a photograph of myself as a baby “reading” a plush book about farm animals, which I proudly showed to Mrs. Green’s Kindergarten class in a “Me Magazine” that we all got to fill out and show our peers when we were each the “special person” of the week. Let’s just say the “Me Magazine” is how I began to love the art of producing magazines. When I was finally able to actually read, I picked up a copy of J-14 magazine. That copy of J-14 turned into a heaping pile sitting on a bookshelf in my room, comprised of M, Popstar!, Tiger Beat, and BOP. I would only go grocery shopping with my mom simply to pick up a magazine. And on the topic of being “real,” my mom (whom most of you may know as adjunct professor Melissa Macaulay Federico of marketing) called me out one time for reading the embarrassing stories sections. As much as I loved learning facts about the Sprouse twins, Jesse McCartney, Hilary Duff, Avril Lavigne, amongst so many others, it was the humiliating, yet raw and earthly stories from people. Why do you think that we love to read the captions of Humans of New York? Put simply, they’re real. And because I loved to read, not just magazines I promise, I learned that I loved to write my own stories, which prompted my second-grade teacher to say when giving an example of a spelling word, “April loves to write.” It did take some trial and error in my college career to figure that out for myself, but it’s been true all along.

The funny thing about all that is that some of us, if not all of us, may have been struggling, too – to find ourselves and our true life’s purposes. On this day, when we glance down at our degrees (who knows if we’re doing that or not, today), no matter if it’s a BS, BA, or BFA, remember not so much about the numerous cups of Caramel Macchiatos, Nitro Cold Brews, or Venti Iced White Mocha Lattes purchased at Starbucks, or the tears, sweat, (and hopefully not blood) that have been shed trying to complete an essay or project, but realize that you did, in fact, find your purpose at RWU. For some of you, it may have been to give your power to those who may feel powerless or estranged from society, thus you took a trip with Habitat for Humanity, joined the Women’s Collective, or even took an international trip with FIMRC. For some of you, it may have been the urging need for something to be done for the student body, thus you joined Student Senate or Inter-Class Council. For some of you, it may have been to share your extensive knowledge of math, science, foreign languages, and/or the art of writing with students needing that extra reassurance in the tutoring center. For some of you, it may have been the ability to carry your athletic team across that finish line or shoot that winning shot in basketball. No matter where you take your “superpowers,” I encourage you to keep Toni Morrison’s words not only in your minds but also in your hearts. Also, no matter where you go, just do the right thing.

Thank you, Roger Williams University, for creating a nest that we, hawks, will all miss dearly. And thank you for everything. Congratulations and good luck to the Roger Williams University and University College Class of 2020. I’ll see you all a year from now in 2021 when we WILL have our chance to walk across the stage.

xoxoxo,

April 💕

Stop “should-ing” yourself because everything happens for a reason

This is my last hoorah for classes in my senior year as I officially end classes tomorrow (Tuesday — Wednesday for some.) It’s so bittersweet to end classes, nonetheless my undergraduate career this way, especially during a pandemic when you can’t see everybody in person. As you look at the title of this post, it’s true: things do happen for a reason. And in COVID’s case, it started out with a bat. I spent many hours, many days, crying for a reason, and it was simply because I felt trapped in this situation. But we all do in some way or another. This isn’t me being selfish. However, this doesn’t compare to three years ago, when I made the right move for myself: to transfer colleges.

When I found myself transferring to RWU, I found myself “should-ing.” What I mean by that, is that I found myself saying to my mom on accepted students day, “I should’ve applied here for undergraduate in the first place.” I also found myself saying, “I should’ve taken a gap year between high school and college.” Neither of those is true, so I needed to stop saying “I should’ve done this, this, and that.” But who knew that two years in a row, I’d be nominated to speak at Accepted Students Day? I sure didn’t, at the time because I was so miserable. However, that was just the universe preparing me for the best that was yet to come.

The day before an [virtual] awards ceremony, my mom told me that despite my trials and errors throughout my college career and the things I’ve been through, the good and the bad, I wouldn’t be where I am today without all these things. None of these things would have led me to RWU, my best friend, my boyfriend, and my overall happiness. Something can feel like a bad situation to a full 100%, but there many different percentages of how you can handle a situation. In the end, things don’t seem to be too terrible! You will feel a lot of feelings — anger and resentment with a mix of ecstasy, and your “messenger nerves” will have you twirling like a circus girl around your living room. These ostensibly “terrible moments” are actually the universe’s way of saying, “I’m preparing you; the best is yet to come.” Who knows? The “best” can completely blindside you. But a common phrase other than “everything happens for a reason,” that I use is “there’s always sunshine beyond the rain.” Seeds have been planted before the [month of] April rain and look! May flowers!

In short, you’re not stuck nor trapped. You’re just in the groove of blossoming. 🌱

xoxo,

April 💕