Imposter Syndrome After Graduation

As of May 7, 2022, I am a master of publishing and writing from Emerson College. I miss it already, but at the same time, I am ready for the next chapter of my life. The whole world is wide open and I love it. But I’m not going to lie when I say I had a prolonged moment of imposter syndrome for the last week. I felt like I didn’t deserve anything I’ve ever gotten to this point in my life. But why would that statement be true? I felt like Elle Woods when she first started law school at Harvard. The truth is, no one EVER told me I was “not smart enough for my masters degree.” Even I know that’s total B.S. even if someone were to actually say that to me.

Immediately after I got home, ate McDonald’s (yes, I can still eat that, as a diabetic), I started looking at PhD programs… as if I have any idea of what I want to be a “doctor” or “philosopher” in. Right now, as I write this, I enjoy being a philosopher of life and writing. I remember the words of the keynote speaker, Kim McLarin, “you are now masters and teachers of your field.” As I was nearly passing out of starvation central, that didn’t stop me from wondering, “my therapist was right; it was hard to complete this masters degree, but I did it.”

Then later on Sunday night, I got to thinking about all the trials and tribulations I went through in the last year alone. I had an unfortunate COVID breakthrough in October, moved to the city (which was hell on its own), and the following semester? You guessed it. Diabetes. All of these events made me feel like I didn’t deserve my masters. My therapist asked me today, “what sacrifices did you make for your masters?” And I said, “I don’t feel like I made any.” The only other thing I could say was “time.”

It’s true, I didn’t feel like I made any actual sacrifices. All I know is that I felt like I didn’t deserve a moment like I did when I crossed the stage to have my hood put on, close my eyes, and bask in the spotlight when my name was called. I felt like I deserved none of it, which is upsetting to me. I can’t help but wonder, is it a lack of validation? Or is it what I think people think of me? Do people think that getting my masters was a waste? Or do I think it was a waste? Personally, I think not. I’m almost 26 years old. I was 23 when I committed to Emerson. I was 24 when I started with unfortunate technical difficulties. And now, it’s just a matter of “what are you doing, April?”

Imposter Syndrome can stem from many forms, such as lack of empathy from people, anxiety, and trauma. A million people can have faith in you, but you have to have faith in yourself. You deserve a day in the sun. Life is not going to be “sunshine and rainbows” all the time, but life doesn’t have to suck. After all, your thoughts create your reality.

And by all means, if someone thinks you “can’t do it,” do it twice, maybe even a third, and take pictures.

Girl Meets (Real) World

I got my cap and gown today and it made me sad. Well, it actually made anxious AF. Why? My anxiety does a good job of being a bitch and convincing me that I have no idea where I’m going. But the truth is, I have time. I will not be homeless and I will not starve. I have the biggest picture envisioned for my future and it starts now.

I wrote in my gratitude journal today, “anxiety is a huge bitch, and I conquer that bitch.” It took me a long time to be able to say that and have it click. I recently joined Punch Drunk Soul, which is a coaching program for aspiring coaches. One of the biggest “pillars,” so to speak, is “compassionate courage,” which is actually something that led me to be “badass coach of the week.” Cue the applause. 👏🏻

What’s coincidental and timely is that The Wizard of Oz was mentioned in my climate fiction class, though we were discussing the symbols of socialism in the movie compared to the short stories we were reading, I can’t help but think of the famous line, “You had the power all along my dear, you just had to realize it for yourself.” But along the way, Dorothy had a lion, a tin man, a scarecrow, and her trusty dog beside her. One thing’s for sure: Dorothy was not alone in navigating her power. And neither am I. I have a man who loves me, friends (special shout out to the 18 new friends I made last week during our Soul Sister Call!), a family (even when we fight), and countless mentors and counselors. Truth is, I really am winning at life. I don’t have to be Charlie Sheen to do so. 😜 Even on days when you don’t feel like you’re doing particularly great, there is a hope — a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just all about how you navigate the obstacles that are in said tunnel. Every morning we are greeted with an array of choices. So, I suggest you follow your own “yellow brick road.” Embrace the yellow powder that may get on your shoes. As our good friend, Forrest Gump once said, “you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes.” Life really is about the journey, not the destination. I’m realizing that now, as a soon-to-be masters graduate from Emerson College.

I was also thinking about a post I wrote after my first semester at RWU, Self-Reliance Being Put To Use: A Semester In Review . I had just taken an American Literature final and one of the authors we discussed was Ralph Waldo Emerson. Oddly enough, and again, timing is everything, in my climate fiction class someone had presented about the Solarpunk genre. One of the videos she shared prompted the question, “how can we live comfortably?” It’s not people we have to crush under our feet in order to climb the ostensible hierarchy, it’s our former selves. We undergo such much change. Without change, we can’t grow. We can’t transform.

If you’re graduating from high school, college, grad school, etc., I wish you Godspeed and don’t worry, you’ll see me navigate the “real world” on this blog. 😉 You have NOT seen the last of me!

xoxo,

April 💕

The Truth About Feeling Guilty | What Can We Do About It?

I done goofed.

Last night I made some poor judgments on what to eat and drink.

I took my low blood sugar level for granted and forgot I was diabetic. HOW DOES ONE FORGET THAT!?

I felt an overwhelming feeling of guilt. I tried talking myself out of it to the point where even I said to myself, “shut the f*** up!” I wanted to shut off my overthinking brain so badly.

The truth is, you have to forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes! I wrote in my journal last night, “but how long can I keep making that excuse?” The fact of the matter is that nobody’s perfect. I get it, mistakes can cost you. Take my once carefree attitude pre-diagnosis, for example. I know I have the power to one day reverse my diabetes. I have the power to take control over my rumination. I have the capability of reminding myself who I am. At the end of the day, or even in the morning, you still have the sun in you to rise above anything — including your regrets.

Every day is a new day. You can’t go back to yesterday. Every day has a lesson. In fact, each morning, peace arrives at your door in the form of choices. I’m telling you, it’s okay. Everything is okay. Just take the yin and yang and breathe. Seriously. Nothing is more important than the ability to breathe. Overthinking and anxiety can make you forget to breathe, sometimes.

I challenge you to write down your intentions for today. I’ll go first:

1.) Invest in happiness without spending money.

2.) Love with all my heart, but remember to be patient.

3.) Post content.

4.) Do yoga.

5.) Meditate and pray.

6.) Do homework.

Stressing myself out is not an option. It’s not an option for you, either. All it does is raise blood sugar. I’ll say it again, everything is okay.

Go and conquer your day, lovelies. 😘

xoxo,

April 💗

Go Little Rockstar: It’s Ready, It’s Yours, You Did It

I tell this story a million times, or at least I think I do, but when I first published on The Odyssey Online, with my first two articles in the queue. Mind you, my boss at the time put all his trust in me and thought I- I was qualified to be Editor-in-Chief of my campus chapter. I took it because there wasn’t a chance I’d have that again… until now.

It’s been years since that breakthrough phone call. But as of recently, I broke through, out of my own personal “gate” to be my own boss. I remember vaguely, when I was eight years old, I told my mom I wanted to be a pop star and to perform in my very own concert. She said, “it takes a really long time.” It does. It does take a really long time. Some people wait a lifetime, like Van Gogh when he sold his first painting. I don’t know if anyone realizes, but I am a huge of Van Gogh and his background. I don’t know what led him to asylum, but I know that he and I both coped with art. Poetry for me, painting for him.

It took a really long time, but I found what I was meant to do. I rewatched Katy Bellotte’s “An Honest Video,” (again) only to be triggered by the same emotions that led me to my hospitalization in 2017. I’ll be honest when I say I nearly gave up on my purpose, due to anxiety. But it was only growth that was making my soul itch. Growth is notoriously uncomfortable.

So, little rockstar, what were you meant to do? I strongly believed I was put on this Earth for a purpose: to inspire. I’ve had publishers tell me that relentlessly. I believed them. As Katy says in the beginning of her video, “ignoring your passions is slow suicide.” She came to the conclusion in her Italian language class that she wanted to go into graphic design. She went from working at L’Oreal in social media to being her own boss at Katy Bellotte Designs.

It’s no secret that I’ve held countless jobs and internships this past year alone. I also believed that I had it all; I have a man who loves me (hi Mark!), family, friends, food to eat, and a roof over my head. I just wasn’t satisfied with my career. I knew a few years back that I was meant for more than journalism. I tried my hand at marketing– what a bust. I tried to run my own business, then COVID hit. Now, things are looking up. I’m so excited to reveal I became a trauma healing, spiritual health and wellness coach! That’s right, I chose courage over fear; faith over doubt; being present instead of brooding on the past.

I talked a bit in my last post about fearing the future. But now, I live by the mantra, “I needn’t worry about the future anymore. It’s bright, it’s here, it’s mine, I did it.”

My head has never been more clear. Go, little rockstar. Keep moving forward. 🚀

xoxo,

April 💖

What To Do When You Feel “Stuck” In A Funk

I just got out of my weekly writer’s meeting with my internship site for the semester, and honestly, I feel more motivated than ever to cross the finish line. I am grateful to my boss and everyone else around me for being so flexible. If you don’t know what’s going on, you can read my last post here.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve sought out help in support groups and been to therapy. Therapy was also a good “kick in the butt” (in a gentle way, of course). Also, watching How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days is a great motivator, since the plot is centered around journalism. Reaching out to friends helps, too. I also put my new planner into use and I used my notes section to write down everything I’m grateful for, and everything that I know I am (a.k.a my “best traits”).

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you need to take breaks. February was a total blur for me, but in a nontraditional sense (I was in the ICU for Pete’s sake!). Believe me, in the beginning of February, I thought I was suffering from burnout, but the fatigue and severe acid reflux only manifested into diabetes. I even go back to my full-time job next week and I could not be more stoked to actually have a real start at a place whose employees actually care about their fellow employees. And this is a simple fact of life: flexibility is the sign of intelligence.

With that being said, you should probably be more flexible with yourself, too. This also means communicating how you feel to others so they’re not left “high and dry.” You’d be surprised at how many people can actually be understanding and try to help you out. I’ll admit that I’m stubborn and had this carefree lifestyle once upon a time and thought I was invincible. FYI: no one is. My internship boss said to the staff last week, “everyone takes a sh*t. Some people get it out easier than others.” The same goes if you’re stuck in a funk. For some people it’s easier to get out of than others, depending on who you are. Everyone has different ways of doing it. I was talking to my publisher today, and we concluded that people deal with anxiety differently. That was no underlying secret to me, to begin with. As Mrs. Incredible says, “you need to learn how to be more flexible” (she said in her seductive voice LOL).

The Truth About Self-Esteem

It was Wednesday morning and I don’t know if it was the Opalite around my neck but my self-worth kicked in. Though I can’t describe exactly what happened, I knew that I had to stand up for myself and to be treated better. (Disclaimer: this was not a boyfriend situation — he and I are very much still together and things are going great!)

But riddle me this: when did self-respect translate into being rude? When did doing this for the sake of building your own future make you selfish? Why do people get mad when you are just trying to make yourself happy? Don’t people want you to be happy?

Oddly enough, I had a therapy session that same morning. I had to say to him (my therapist) that I instantly felt regret standing up for myself, but why was that? He told me that when you haven’t stood up for yourself in a long time, that feeling of regret tends to occur. It seems sad that it happens. However, I think it’s growth.

The last time I remember this happening, I was called a “petulant child” by a professor and accused of disrespect, which only made me cry harder after sticking up for myself to another professor. I wish I could say to her now that self-respect does not equal disrespect for another individual. Respect is earned, not given freely. And just because you’re an older adult, that doesn’t mean that you have ultimate authority. #SorryNotSorry

With self-worth comes self-esteem. Psychologist, Melanie Fennell concluded the following:

• Throughout your life you form negative beliefs about yourself as a result of the way you have been treated. Psychologists call this your ‘bottom line’ or ‘core belief ’. Your core belief is how you feel about yourself deep down, for example “I’m worthless” or “I’m no good”.


• Confronting core beliefs feels unpleasant, so we all develop rules for living that protect us from our core beliefs. These rules guide how you live your life, and as long as your rules don’t get broken, your core belief stays dormant. People with low self-esteem often have rules that are demanding and rigid, such as “I must always please other people”, or “As long as I don’t get criticized then I’m OK”.


• It can feel very anxiety provoking when it seems like one of your rules might be broken. If one of your rules is “I’m OK as long as everyone is happy”, it might be anxiety provoking if people around you are not happy – you might feel that you have failed.


• When there is a danger that rules might be broken, you might make anxious predictions about what might happen and fear the worst (e.g. “I’ll be rejected if I can’t do everything that is expected of me”), or you might speak to yourself in a critical way, or avoid tricky situations and use strategies to cope.

There’s no doubt that I, and everyone else have had these experiences. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve striven to be perfect to the point of sickness. When I was being bullied severely, I felt like I had to “bow down” to some higher power of what was right versus wrong. I can’t help but wonder now, was that society? Or just simply the place I grew up? I swear, that town had 10 Commandments of being ostensibly cool.

I remember the first day of eighth grade, I had health class at the end of the day and my teacher said to the class, “if you don’t have self-esteem by now, you’re on your own!” Comically enough, I didn’t have any self-esteem. I could have been in a room full of people and still be lonely AF (no pun intended — those are my initials).

I remember crying to my mom, and I choke up as I write this, that whenever I tried to talk, I got laughed and snickered at. When I tried to stand up for myself, I was called mean. Another truth about self-esteem is that is affects every aspect of your life.

My therapist said I had this sort of glow after I stood up for myself. I’ve been constantly worried about telling people what I wanted to do and what I was going to do with my life, but I shouldn’t let that terrify me because what I do is ultimately my choice. You’re the author of your own life. Write your own story without people telling you that what you’re writing is wrong.

Moving Is Like An Empty Bookshelf

If you’ve ever moved, you know that it’s painful and excruciating emotionally and physically. It affects everyone who’s involved and depending on your living situation, it can have some ugly and anxiety-ridden moments. Being an empath myself, I’ve taken on my own baggage and everyone else’s baggage. I realize that I had, literally, just moved on Friday but with everything still in boxes and not being able to access everything smoothly, it’s not the same. This is my fourth straight day in a row, crying.

You can say that moving is like an empty bookshelf. A bookshelf is, normally, where all your books are to feed your mind. (I actually converted my coffee station into a bookshelf LOL.) The bookshelf that I’m referring to here is the one that housed all of the cookbooks. And because everything is in boxes, I can’t access my cooking supplies and I wind up ordering from Uber Eats. But nonetheless, I feel as though I have everything taken out of me; I am drained and feeling like I have no purpose.

But that’s not the case. I have plenty of purpose in me, and I know it. Other people know it, too. You, my dear, have so much purpose, too.

I took it to texting my best friend (hi, Katelyn!) who had moved to her own big-girl apartment two summers ago and I asked her if she ever felt lonely when moving to a whole new “world,” or so it seems like it for everyone who moves. I mean hey, I moved to Rhode Island 5 years ago. But this is my first time living in more urban setting. Anyway, this is what she said to me, “I kept busy and I gave it time.”

Keeping busy, such as writing this post while listening to Katy Bellotte’s podcast, “Thick and Thin” helps so much (Netflix, too). I’m trying not to sleep so much because resting only makes me restless and can give you a really bad headache.

Maybe I’m just impatient and headstrong, both gifts and curses at the same time. But I felt like I would get that normalcy right away. No, not the case at all. In fact, anyone who says that clearly has never moved in their lifetime. And that’s just the thing: things take time. Some things happen quicker than others, but to me, that means that some higher power had that planned for you.

Moral of the story: moving is like a bookshelf, you’ll be filled with your resources and normalcy, soon enough.

“In Time, Everything Will Be Yours” | Patience

Last week, I got off the phone with my therapist. I was feeling a sense of hope yet another sense of hopelessness. That’s when I realized my imposter syndrome was so bad that my anxious self would not let me pull myself out of it. I was constantly focused on the future — what it could hold. Did I mention I’m impatient AF?

I couldn’t help but compare myself to people who rent their own apartments because I still live at home. I couldn’t help but compare myself to people who had full-time jobs. But then I realized, I’m furthering my education by going to grad school for my career: publishing and writing. I’d be lying if I said that I was never judged. You can’t really stop the world from judging, but in reality, you’re your own worst critic.

I then saw a post from some media outlet (I’m sorry I don’t remember who posted it!) But it was a series of TikToks from a very successful woman (her name also escapes me — ah!!). No, her success was not a story that happened overnight. Her success came from within and many, many bouts of comparing herself. However, comparing herself was getting her nowhere. This same woman worked at Trader Joe’s for quite some time, until she proved herself to be a successful realtor. I’m definitely no expert in real-estate, but this woman seems to be pretty prominent in the industry.

One thing this woman asked herself was, “why isn’t everyone else’s success happening to me?” Instead she switched her mindset to “in time, everything will be yours.” She then got to work. And that’s the thing about applying yourself to whatever it is you set your mind to. Think of it as a job; you can’t just submit your resume without your cover letter! In real life, you can’t just go on and on about the things you’ve done; you need to prove yourself that you can do the job. Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly fine to be absolutely confident. But you need to have a plan in order to execute the results you want. This means putting in the time and energy to do so.

In time, something — no matter what it is — will be attained. You just have to get off your behind and achieve it. That means writing your cover letter — not recycling the ones you’ve already written because trust me, belaboring your point to a billion employers will only have you killing your own brain cells. If something’s clearly not working in your favor, you have to change it. No one else is going to do that for you. How you think of yourself and how you put yourself on paper matters. Think about it: the energy you put out is the same energy you will get back. It’s karma and manifestation! If you think that life is absolutely exhausting you, you will feel that lethargy and negativity. Don’t burn yourself out before you try to better yourself and especially don’t burn yourself out when you’re going after your dreams!

Be patient with yourself. If you’re not seeing results right away, don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t be mad at the universe, either. In time, it’ll be yours.

xoxo,

April

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. 

2020: the year people will (hopefully) understand mental health

I’ve been dealing with anxiety and other illnesses my whole life, and it sucks. It sucks because you feel like a burden in addition to feeling judged 24/7. Don’t forget about overthinking, it’s terrible. I’ll admit I’m not as uptight as I used to be about mental health 6 or some years ago, and I wasn’t always a bubbly, confident force to be reckoned with. Mental health is something I learn to navigate, figure out, and educate myself about each and every day. But after 5 years of college, I’ve grown to be fed up about people not understanding mental illness and how much of an impact it can have on someone’s daily life.

After asking the following questions on Instagram, using anxiety as an example. Anxiety, in my opinion, is by far the hardest for other people to understand unless they have it. I posed the question on Instagram: “If you have anxiety, what do you do about it?” Responses varied:

  1. “Journal, listen to music, get outside & talk about it!” — B.C.
  2. “Deep breaths, then unplug from technology for at least an hour, and then exercise!” — Anonymous.

I then asked, “What would you say to people who clearly don’t ‘get it’?” And one person said:

“They don’t have to ‘get it’ but just be respectful of those with anxiety.”

That alone is a perfect response. Is anyone really going to understand anxiety? Or mental illness at large? The answer is “hopefully.” It’s amazing and astonishing how many people can be so ignorant of mental illness. For some people, it’s a hard pill to swallow, and even when they slug it down, it still wouldn’t process. For example, when I have bad days, they’re awful. It’s not like I choose to dive off the deep end. I’ve had people tell me I’m “wasting time” when I’m dealing with something internal when I could be doing something else. That’s unfortunately not how it works. For some, if not a lot of people, mental health can be crippling. It matters just as much as physical health.

What I didn’t realize was that today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. The title of this day alone made me think of the aspect of talking to others. No one should be forced to talk about their mental health. In fact, that violates medical laws. There are some people who don’t even believe in therapy, and that’s okay, too. Everyone has different ways of dealing with mental health. There is no “one way.” Think of the roots of a tree. They sprout in all different directions. Then there are the branches, which do the same. There’s a root cause for why someone may be upset, anxious, depressed — anything! Then you have your whole body which can react in several different ways. Some people can’t get out of bed. Some people choose to isolate themselves. Some people choose to go for a run. Some people immediately get on the phone to book an appointment with a therapist. In the end, it’s up to you what you decide to do.

January was a rough month for everybody, so let us hope that for the rest of 2020, people will learn to understand mental health.