How To Not Become A Doormat And/Or People Pleaser

I used to self-define myself as a “people pleaser,” which is not the case anymore. I am not a doormat to be walked all over. I am a human being, too, who’s just trying to be satisfied in life– my life. After all, we’re not put on this planet to “please” others.

There’s that saying, and I’m pretty sure I’ve quoted this before, “do what you love and you never have to work another day in your life.” But when you take a job, are you doing it for you? Or are you just doing it to please others? If you said yes to the latter, you’re like me: a former doormat. This is just a hypothetical example, but that’s not to say that I haven’t experienced it for myself. As a writer, I hear the words, “get a real job” ring in my ears all the time, from the first time I heard it. Who said art can’t be a job? Maybe I just needed to vent here, but it’s true. Artist, Wayne Thiebaud painted every day until he was 101 — a prime example.

I stay up after 1 a.m. writing this, with a fire in my heart and an enormous passion for what I do. Some people will call you crazy for pursuing your passion. Some people will try to tell you what to do, try to shut you up, or crap on your passions, only for the sake of pleasing their asses.

Moreover, I can’t help but feel like, when I was bullied in middle school that I let people walk all over me, just like a doormat. I let people cut me in line and hear my name mentioned to my face and behind my back. One time, I got hit in the head and let the guy get away with it, without an apology. When I was in eighth grade, it finally smacked me in the face with a textbook that I was letting all the BS happen to me. There came time when I refused to let people put their feet in the back of my chair and to move a couple of seats down for their “friends.”

The funny thing about being a “doormat,” is that people will think you’re never going to be successful. I hate to say this, but if you let people walk all over you, you will not get what you want, out of a situation or in life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to take the high road, but it’s also okay to say “thank you” after an apology when it’s certainly not “okay.” And when someone keeps asking you to do something, just say, “I can’t help you this time/anymore because…” but you don’t even have to give a reason, though a reason can help back up any argument.

BLOG-MAS: What’s Your ‘Why?’ The Purpose Statement

I write this after completing my second-to-last semester at Emerson College’s MA in Publishing and Writing program. Wow. What a milestone! I feel an overwhelming spurt of emotions, mostly happy and I’m not fearing the future quite yet. It’s all about living in the moment, and I couldn’t be happier with where I am in life. But hey, I don’t have that degree in my hand quite yet as I embrace my boyfriend and my family.

I remember when I was taking part in virtual orientation prior to starting classes, and the vice president of the college was talking about what we had written for our purpose statements. I hardly remember my purpose statement, but I do remember it having to do with inspiring others, along with a few mentions of my undergraduate career and how I got here. Essentially, it also incorporated resilience (which is coincidentally the title of my first poetry book). It didn’t take me long to write mine, but it did require some thought.

The statement of purpose isn’t necessarily autobiographical, but it should highlight your greatest strengths and some of the activities you’ve done that would (hopefully) benefit your career at your school of choice. For example, I was a part of RWU’s literary magazine, Mount Hope and I was additionally the Editor-in-Chief of the English and Creative Writing Department’s online zine, Voices. I also had two internships under my belt at the time, one of which was at Rhode Island Monthly, which was a great asset and leg-up to have. This is also a great opportunity for your grad school to see how well you write. I can also add that having a little personal something-something (without belaboring it) in your statement is beneficial because schools also want to imagine you outside of school.

Not only that, but schools also want to know your literal purpose for completing a master’s or PhD. What is your “why?” What you eventually put on paper and send to your school might change as you’re in your program. This world is crazy and so is life. But still, why [insert school here]? Why [insert program here]? You could also incorporate, why now?

Consider this a part two of BLOG-MAS: Reasons To Go To Graduate School. Also, one “don’t” I’ve learned from a professor doing my recs was to not include the location of the school because it’s considered insulting. So yeah, don’t do that! That shouldn’t even be a reason or a part of your “why.”

How To Get Your Dream Job/Internship

When I was younger, I had dreams… I still do. I am a girl with dreams that turned into visions. These visions became reality. I dreamt of being a fashion designer, a lawyer, a doctor, now I’m living my dream as a writer.

I recently got a job at… drumroll please… MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)! That’s right, I am going to be working in their communications department and I’m so excited to continue my career in content creating at one of the top higher institutions in the country.

How did I get here, you ask? Well, my first internship was actually in HIGH SCHOOL. So that’s what brings me to my first tip:

  1. Start Early: I said this in a few posts, and I’ll say it again: your major in college is bound to change. However, when you’re in high school, you’ll have interests in mind. My first internship was at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, which I LOVED! I was picked out of 30 applicants to be a volunteer intern, not just due to my high grades and GPA but due to my experience, as someone who lives with a cancer patient. With that being said, I worked in their oncology department. I thought, at the time, that I was going to be a chemistry major with a pre-law background. That was not the case at all. Again, things change, and everything happens for a reason.

2. Take Advantage of Every Opportunity in College

If there is something that is up your alley that you want to do, go for it, by all means necessary. Plus, employers like well-rounded students, so it’s 100% okay to have a lot of interests, as long as you’re not exhausting yourself. Me? I was involved in student politics and Title IX and I’m working in publishing.

3. Any Major Can Do Anything

There’s no doubt that with through every phase of your career (i.e. grad school, undergrad, PhD) that you’re going to wish you did something different. I mean come on, when I was in my first year of grad school, I thought I wanted to work at a veterinary clinic and actually looked into UPenn’s Veterinary program. As I was looking through the majors of the 2020 cohort, I noticed that some were English majors! But no matter what the prerequisites are, you better work b*tch. You want biology and chemistry courses? Take EdX courses! Better yet, these courses have certificate options so you can most definitely add those to your resume!

4. Just Go For It, Even If You Don’t Feel Qualified

I was a sophomore (for the second time) in college when I transferred to RWU. More than anything, I was wanting to write. And I wanted to write for a publication, a magazine at that. Most of you know that I interned for Rhode Island Monthly, and it was indubitably one of the best summers of my life. Having been in Rhode Island for a year, at the time, I wanted to write and edit for one of the premier magazines in the country, and nonetheless a household magazine. I even befriended Lily Herman, who was someone I looked up to greatly because she had her words published in elite publications (e.g. Teen Vogue). With that being said, NETWORK. Even though I felt slightly unqualified, I was getting ready to “kill or die” for an internship (yes, I did use that line — it worked).

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.

New Beginnings | Five Years Of This Blog

In the beginning of In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, Dannie Kohen goes for an interview with her dream corporate law firm (spoiler alert: she gets the job). Another spoiler? She gets engaged to her long-time boyfriend that same night. Five years later, she is still working at the firm and is still engaged. You really have to read the book to understand what internal conflict she’s going through.

My In Five Years is different from that of Dannie’s. Five years ago, in 2016, I was home from college on a medical absence because I needed a break from a traumatic break-up. Being jerked around by someone who clearly doesn’t want to be your “forever” is the worst. The awakening to the fact that the relationship was insidiously controlling was even harder to grapple with because I couldn’t help but think, “how did I get into that mess, the way I did?” It was a year I would never get back.

However, in five years I managed to become everything I wanted to be. I got the college academic experience that I wanted and I became happier with myself. Even if myself was 50 pounds heavier than I was in high school. One of the greater things to come out of that horrible relationship was my unearthed love for writing. I didn’t have to worry if he didn’t like it, what only mattered was if I was happy with myself and my writing.

What came with that, was a boatload of confidence that I never thought I would achieve. I learned that you don’t get what you want if you don’t ask for it and work for it, too. My first ever internship was at Rhode Island Monthly magazine. I worked by butt off in that summer of 2018 while simultaneously working for RWU’s Marketing and Communications department to earn some money. Both of those experiences, while also writing for my campus newspaper helped a great deal with my resume. My resume got me to places I never thought I’d be, which only beefed it up some more. In fact, I have an interview this coming Monday to be the Editor-in-Chief of an app! (:

Relationship-wise? It’s safe to say that I’m in the relationship of my dreams.

Location-wise? My whole family and I just moved to North Providence and it’s also safe to say that we are exhausted and overwhelmed at the same time.

As I write this in the Golden Afternoon, on a fall Saturday in my new home, I can’t help but feel like this is a new beginning for everything and everyone. I may have lost my comforter and linens in the move, but the adventure is worth it.

You’re Not Going To Be A Hemingway By Watching A Movie About Hemingway

I’m sitting on my loveseat watching a documentary on Ernest Hemingway, and it’s quite the coincidence because I had written The Truth About Writing Full-Time | You Have A Purpose two years ago today. I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t take me a bit to develop a thick skin, being a full-time writer and content creator. The truth is that no one will necessarily agree with your lifestyle choices, or with the way your brain simply works. You cannot succumb to their criticism just because they simply don’t “get it.” By “it” I mean the way your mind works and/or your ideas. I remember when I was discussing media analysis with my boyfriend and I opened a review by a… “catty” critic from a reviewer of my second published book, The Disappearing Act. Yet again, I found that it was based off the ignorance of the creative process.

What’s funny is that I mentioned very limited knowledge about Hemingway in that post. Just like the creative process and the way people think, there is a reason for everything. There were reasons why Hemingway was an alcoholic. There were reasons why he wouldn’t wake up until 2:00 in the afternoon — it was because a famous American critic gave him a harsh review and Hemingway didn’t take it very well. It wasn’t until a Communist newspaper journalist said, “Hemingway has not produced a book in six years worthy of his talents.” To that, Hemingway responded with “there is only good and bad writing.” Huh. As to why he abusive to his wife, Martha, I will never comprehend an abuser’s mind, other than the fact that he was insecure about another bad review.

There is also a reason why Hemingway wrote about death so much. He had a fascination with it, especially with the way bulls are killed in a Spanish bullfight. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was. However, I can tell you this: in order to be a writer, you have to have some sort of fascination with something. It’s similar in the way that J.K. Rowling incorporated a lot of death in her Harry Potter books; she’s seen death firsthand by losing her mother in her twenties. That is to say, if you want to write a book, a blog post, article, or even start a YouTube channel, you’re not going to be successful by watching documentaries about authors and your favorite YouTubers all day. You can be inspired by what other people have done. But at the same time, you CANNOT compare yourself to someone else’s success. Someone’s chapter fifteen is not your chapter one. We all start from somewhere, whether you like it or not. I’ve heard of YouTubers who started at age 14 but didn’t make it a full-time job until they were 22 years old (e.g. Brooke Miccio).

Another part of building your brand and developing who you are is discipline and consistency. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Just like a carpenter or construction worker, they work tirelessly every day until they need some sort of break. There have been times where I have needed to take a break from blogging, only to see that it wasn’t benefiting me because not writing makes me obscenely anxious. But the other thing is to just simply not put pressure on yourself. Whomever said “sometimes you need to be pressured” is disturbed AF.

Be your own [insert your name here]. I wish you Godspeed in whatever it is you try to do, and I love you all!

xoxo, April.

Check out my latest YouTube video here.

The truth about second-guessing yourself | End of my first year of grad school reflection

I’ve watched Legally Blonde more times than I can count on both hands. There’s that poignant scene where Elle is venting to Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge also happens to be an Emerson alum… just saying). Before Professor Stromwell hits her with that famous “if you’re going to let that stupid prick ruin your life…” quote, Elle tells Paulette, “it’s the first time in my life that people expected me to become more than just a Victoria’s Secret model.”

In my first year at Emerson, I learned, I worked, I wanted to cry (but didn’t), and I persevered. In my many years in academia, I wanted to give up. Again, I never did. But I feel as though this is the first year I actually didn’t want to give up because I felt purposeful in my career. By career, I don’t mean academia. I mean journalism and magazine publishing.

I tried my hand at book publishing — in the marketing realm to be more specific. Of course, that wasn’t for me. So, why would I try to diverge into another field of publishing? As much as I love to read, I could never market a book for a living. That’s not to say that magazine publishing is any easier.

Moreover, I not only feel but I know that I haven’t second-guessed myself completely. It wasn’t long until I left said book publishing gig when I came face-to-face with the reality it just wasn’t for me! I’ve been committed to magazine publishing since I was reading fan magazines in second grade — everything from J-14 to Tiger Beat.

I write all of this after a fantastic day. I got my first freelance check; I found out that I’m getting an A the best class I’ve taken thus far; and I scored my first “big girl job” in the world of editing. Everything comes in threes.

Another thing about second-guessing yourself is that you’re always left with uncertainty. You can feel this in a relationship, in your course of study, or even in a decision that you made. However, with every decision you make comes a lesson and a blessing in disguise. But don’t get me wrong, you can make the best decision of your life. Years later you’ll be able to say either that was the best decision at the time, or again, of your life. Those lessons can help you in the future.

The thing about uncertainty is that you’re stuck with the mentality that something won’t work out. It can thusly make you physically sick or emotionally exhausted. For example, if you’re “stuck” in what you think is a dead-end job, you’re really not. It’s just a means to an end! And in the end, you’ll always feel grateful. So be grateful no matter what happens!

You Are More Than Your Career

It was the end of the morning on a Friday, and I peruse through social media after conference after conference (virtual, of course — we are living in a pandemic, after all.) I saw a striking post on Instagram, then again on LinkedIn later on that night. The post alluded to dearly missed author, Toni Morrison’s birthday on February 18, 1931. She said, “One day, alone in the kitchen with my father, I let drop a few whines about the job.” What job? I may not know. But I presuming it’s about being an author. Yet again, I am no expert on Toni Morrison’s life. She continued to write, “Although he listened intently, I saw no sympathy in his eyes. No ‘Oh, you poor little thing.’ Perhaps he understood that what I wanted was a solution to the job, not an escape from it.”

Her essay on the value of work and home-life included the following:

  1. Whatever the work is, do it well — not for the boss but for yourself.
  2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you.
  3. Your real life is with us, your family.
  4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.

I came to terms with all of these as I continue to live what I call my “quadruple life.” Yes, that’s me being dramatic, but also somewhat serious. I write for three publications, not just this the April Diaries, but I also work part-time at my local Dollar Tree. But who am I at home? Who am I when I’m with my friends? I think, pre-COVID, I would’ve been able to answer these questions. I haven’t seen a single one of my friends since the pandemic started. Nowadays, I just say, “I’m a writer.” But no one ever inclines to say, “not what, who are you?”

When I think about it, when you eventually pass on, your soul is what people will miss — not your career. You may have made an impact on your career and your respective field. But what you bring to it, people will remember forever. The attitude, the liveliness, and your unique charm draws people to you. The same thing goes for events.

I guess it’s easy to say that the coronavirus took a lot of things that probably will remain “changed forever.” Perhaps wine nights will remain virtual, until everyone gets the vaccine. But this is me going on a tangent.

I’ve been identifying as a writer for almost a year now. When my mom asks me, when I complain I have nothing to do, “what is your hobby?” I immediately say “writing” because it’s the only thing I know so far. I love to do tarot and journal in the mornings. I can’t even begin to describe how sacred mornings are for me!

You can’t just work 24/7 — it’s impossible! What’re even worse are the back pains and eye strains (yes, I use blue light blockers) from sitting at your computer for what seems like eternity.

You have to give yourself a break. You have to set some time aside to go back to yourself. You are not your job. You are you, and I am me: the woman who loves mornings, tarot, journaling, photography, going out to eat, and exploring new places!

Who are you?

“And Just Like That…” The April Diaries Grows Up

The best part about growing up is that you get to actually live your dreams, instead of being told “you’re a kid” or “you’re too little.” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been writing since I was 8. But even then I was saying to myself, “one day, people will take you seriously [as a writer.]” One day turned into Day One, where I served as a coordinator for RISC (Rhode Island Student Collaborative.) Before that came Rhode Island Monthly, where I indubitably had the best summer of my life. And just like that, three years later, I am interning at Art New England and writing for the Boston Globe Magazine, as a “globe correspondent,” in relation to a class I’m taking at Emerson.

As I look back on the popular “for the girl turning 2–” posts [For The Girl About To Turn 21 | Moving Onto 22, For the Girl About to Turn 22 | Welcome to My Jordan Year (23), Does anybody like you when you’re 23? You have to love yourself, first], the lessons that I’ve learned and what I’ve experienced have surely molded me into someone who I am today. But the experiences haven’t existed without the people and the things and ideas that easily influence(d) me. What I know now, however, is that I’m not the girl who settles anymore, instead I learned how to be picky. I’m not the girl who watches Grey’s Anatomy anymore, and as you all know Sex and the City is my bible. But yet again, everyone has their comfort show, and that’s more than okay. It’s good for anxiety.

How I’ve grown as a writer, has honestly changed but also been somewhat lost from when I interned at RI Monthly. There’ve been those who have been with this blog since the beginning — a brokenhearted twenty-year-old, lost, and with no direction. I’ve grown in various forms of copyediting. I laugh at my own grammar mistakes now, which is all you can do, right? Doesn’t that add to the authenticity? There are also those who have grown with me along the way, maybe not so much at the beginning, but have managed to catch up like a Sex and the City re-run marathon. That’s what it’s been like for me, a whole re-run of my life just documented in a digital diary (hence why it’s called “The April Diaries.”) I invite you in. I also invite other people to share their stories with me, as well.

And just like that… the April Diaries has grown up.

BLOG-MAS TUESDAY: You’re responsible for finding inspiration

“An ambitious writer looking for her next adventure,” I type into that big white textbox. I figure I might as well put some aspect of my personality, yet also something clever, into my application for Au Pair Paris. Don’t ask me to speak to you in French. It’s very minimal. In fact, I never took French in my middle school, high school, or undergraduate careers. I was convinced at the ripe age of twelve that I’d be richer if I knew Spanish — right and wrong. Given that in thirty years from now, minorities will become the majority, my near-fluent Spanish hasn’t lasted my transferring to a Rhode Island university.

It’s hard learning anyone’s language, really. But learning somebody’s background/backstory? Why they buy so much coffee? Why they drink so much? Why they’re so impatient? Those are things linguistics can’t teach you.

No, I am no longer considering being an au pair. No, I haven’t been writing as much with the exception of graduate school papers. It seems like I can never catch a break, yet it always feels like I have to write. It’s a little ironic considering I have a book to be published by January 2021. I’ve only ever published fiction once, and that was in And So Yeah magazine. And that’s the thing about magazine publishing — it’s fast-paced and people want new and novel ideas (no pun intended.)

This may or not be a struggle for me next semester as I am writing for Boston Globe Magazine next semester for a class — just a life update. Although, through various internships, I’ve learned how to pitch successfully. It’s harder to get out there than in usual circumstances (i.e. before COVID-19 started and btw there’s going to be a lockdown in Rhode Island starting Sunday, December 20th.) I remember going to artists’ shops in Newport over the Summer two years ago and to Cape Cod last year. I can’t do that until further notice.

But on the topic of writing, writer’s block has hit me harder than ever during the pandemic, and I’ve been struggling to write this book. Thank God I learned the word “curation” in college Aesthetics class (spoiler alert.) But what I’ve learned in terms of regaining that special “spark” is that inspiration isn’t something that you, if I may be so bold, “poop out.” Yes, I just said that. You have to find inspiration. That’s why I walk 1-2 miles every morning averaging at 3,000 steps (not that I’m obsessively checking my health app or anything 😅) I bought hot pink roses the other day at Stop&Shop, so yes, inspiration can cost $8.99 or more.

But with a vase full of roses, you do have to take of them, like you would do unto yourself.

With that being said, the other aspect of it is, and this is where I get real, here — you have to be sober and awake while doing it. You’re not going to get anything out of a bottle of wine. I used to say, “that’s where I get some of my best work!” No. You have a brain, so use it. You rely on yourself and you are responsible for getting that inspiration. Sometimes that does mean waking up at 4:00 in the morning, just to get some words down on paper. Ernest Hemingway would write every morning at 5 a.m. Ernest Hemingway was infamously not a sober individual, but he wrote some of the best essays, short stories, and novels in the history of literature. But nonetheless, you won’t get anything done if you’re drunk and/or tired.

There’s also nothing wrong with getting inspiration out of personal experience. Again, everyone has a story — something linguistics can’t teach you. There’s no shame in being vulnerable with your audience. I remember when I was first being published with the Odyssey Online, I was terrified, petrified, at best. But to be an artist takes not only curiosity but courage to proclaim your truth.