Category Archives: Personal

Effects of Empathy

Note: This post was originally published on my other blog, Rachel Discovers Happiness, but I feel so strongly about it that I feel the need to publish it here as well.

Empathy is a wonderful quality. It allows you to really connect with others. It allows you to feel their emotions, understand where they are coming from, and really take relationships to the next step.

Of the qualities I value in myself, empathy is at the top of the list. I think I’m a good friend. I listen to people and genuinely understand where they are coming from. I am able to comfort people because I can honestly say that I know how they feel.

On the other hand, empathy is an awful emotion. It allows you to feel other people’s emotions.

Although I value my ability to empathize with others, sometimes it makes my life really difficult. Especially with negative emotions. When somebody is happy, it makes me happy too, but only to a certain extent. When somebody is sad, however, I feel those emotions much more intensely. If somebody is crying or upset about something, it physically makes my heart tighten. I feel like my chest is closing in, and often times I am able to hold myself together just as long as it takes for me to get out of their proximity before I break down in tears myself.

Yup, that’s right, I feel other people’s emotions so extremely that their tears bring me to tears.

The reason I am writing about this right now is because yesterday, a family friend of mine passed away. I got an email from my step mom earlier in the day telling me that his mother found his body yesterday morning. Although I have heard his name, I didn’t know him personally. He went to church with my step mom and my step sisters and he graduated from high school with my older sister. My step mom has nothing but nice things to say about his family. When she told me about his passing, I instantly replied, telling her that she had a huge hug waiting for her when she got home.

When she walked in the door at 7:45pm, that’s exactly what she got. A huge hug. My step mom is a big hugger so I’m used to her comforting arms, but this was different. This time, I was the one supporting her. It felt like she was holding on to me and didn’t want to let go. She had tears streaming down her face. She was sobbing. And through the sobs she gasped “his mom found him with the needle still in her arm.”

My stomach dropped. My heart constricted. I didn’t know what to say.

I gave her one more squeeze and when she went over to my dad, I went to my room and broke down. I sat on the floor up against my bed, with tears streaming down my face, and cried. I cried for the lost life of somebody so young, for his family and friends, and for my step mom who I rarely see that upset.

She doesn’t know I cried. Most people don’t. (And shhhh, don’t tell her. Although being empathetic is difficult at times, like I said, it’s one of my favorite qualities in myself.)

As I was sitting there with tears streaming down my face, although my mind never went off of the young man and his family, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am that my family doesn’t struggle with things like hard drug addiction, drunk driving, or teen pregnancy (knock on wood… Pookie still has 8 months until she is officially out of the teen years).

Although we do have our struggles, we are pretty tight knit and support each other. We take care of each other, and make sure that we stay on the right track. This young man’s family did everything that mine would do in their situation, everything they could think of to try to help him through his addiction – rehab, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, praying, etc.

Through all of this, my mind has jumped from person to person who has passed away since my high school years. All of the young people I know who have died have been from one sort of substance abuse or another. I had a friend who died at 17 from drinking and driving. A boy a year or two older than me OD’d on Oxycotton. A young man I graduated with was shot in a dispute over drugs. This makes me extremely sad.

What will it take for people to realize that doing those things doesn’t make you cool?  Calling your parents for a ride home won’t make them as mad at you as drinking, driving and killing somebody would. Shooting heroin won’t make people like you more – and if they do, you probably don’t really want to be hanging out with them in the first place. Selling drugs may be a good source of income, but it’s dangerous and you are contributing to issues in so many other people’s lives.

My step mom, kind of regretfully, told me that she kind of went off on her students yesterday. She was crying and lectured them to never try drugs. Never get into those types things because they are dangerous. She told them that she didn’t want to go another funeral – that it was so painful to watch young people pass away when they had so much more life to live. That not only would they be hurting themselves when they tried things like drugs or drinking and driving, but they hurt their families and friends too. She was kind of sad that she lectured them like that – I think it is extremely important that she did. If even one kid chooses to say “no” because of that lecture, she has made a positive difference (as she does every day in the lives of her students).

Although empathy sometimes makes things difficult for me, I wouldn’t trade it for any other qualities (except, maybe, confidence…) My breakdown after that hug was painful, but it allowed me to look at my family and realized how blessed (or lucky, depending on your religious views) I am and how amazing my family and friends are.

My heart goes out to those who are affected by drugs and alcohol. What my step mom said to her students is spot on – don’t even start with things like cocaine, heroin, etc. You aren’t just hurting yourself, you are hurting all those whose lives you have touched, and a bunch of people you didn’t even know you had an effect on.

As my step mom just said to me:

It really puts it into perspective that we get ourselves all worked up and nervous about things that really aren’t important.

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Things I Like About My Job, part 1

I have officially been an intern at SHIFT Communications for a week and a half now and it has been pretty great! The first few days were spent being introduced to everybody in the office and figuring out which accounts everybody was in charge of… That along with trying to keep up with all the acronyms thrown around in emails and everyday speech wore me out.

Luckily, after diligently shadowing a few people on their accounts, I’ve been able to catch up a little bit and have even been handed some of my own responsibility. That’s pretty exciting, but I’m glad that I’ve had a bit of time to get used to the type of work I would be doing and the office environment.

It’s not that I haven’t had jobs with real responsibilities before (hello, I was a nanny for 4 years – if that’s not responsibility, I don’t know what is), but I’ve never really worked in an office like this before. By that I mostly mean that I’ve never had coworkers my own age – one of the things that I was really looking forward to when I entered the “real world.”

Having coworkers my own age isn’t the only thing that makes me happy about where I am right now. Here are some things that make me smile about my job:

  • I work in San Francisco (which is pretty awesome)
  • It’s nice to see so many people are around my age that have accomplished so much – it makes me believe that I can accomplish those things too!
  • Everybody is super nice
  • I get to say things like “I’ll be back soon, just gotta run out and grab something for a client”
  • I actually have clients (or at least am working with teams that have clients)
  • The office is laid back and professional all at the same time
  • Thus far I haven’t been bored (yeah, I know, I’ve only been here for a week and a half… but that’s a good start!)
  • We are all in cubes which means people just stand up over their cubes and talk to each other
  • Sometimes you can hear people talking on the phone… to somebody else in a different cube across the room – this makes me smile
  • I have coworkers my own age (I had to include it)
  • …and a majority of them are women which means I am able to pick up on their impeccable fashion sense
  • I get to spend time reading recent articles about things that I’m interested in – and it’s all part of the job!
  • Everybody is hilarious, which means that people will be in fits of laughter at random times throughout the entire day

There are more, but those are the things that come to my mind right now. Is there anything better than a job that you enjoy doing, makes you smile, and combines so many of your passions? I think not!

What do you like about your job?


And So It Begins

I feel as though everything in my life has been leading up to now. I’ve always had dreams for myself: go to college, live in a big city, have good relationships with my family members, get a great job, be proud of myself, be happy.

As of last week, I can finally say that I have accomplished all of those things thus far:

  • I graduated from college in June.
  • I have wonderful relationships with all four of my parents and all of my siblings, not to mention my extended family.
  • I signed the lease for an apartment in San Francisco.
  • I have an internship at a great company and I couldn’t be happier about it.
  • I am proud of myself and all I have accomplished – especially the apartment and internship, two things that happened last week.
  • I might not be as happy as I could be, but I’m working on it and all the things I just listed sure do help.

Of course, I haven’t officially moved in to my apartment (that happens this weekend) and I haven’t actually started my internship (I begin tomorrow), but man, I just feel like my life is really taking off!

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that I still want to accomplish in my life, but I am just now starting to feel like a real adult. All of my goals until now have been for my younger self. They were for the me that existed before 2012. The me that was focused on my profession, friends, and dreams. The 22-and-younger me only knew a life that consisted of classes, homework, papers, to and from campus, etc. etc. This new me, the 23-and-older me, has moved on from school, is entering the corporate world, and is ready for new challenges and experiences.

Now, even though it is only 8:20pm, I think I am going to go pick out my outfit for tomorrow, crawl in to bed, read a book, and get a good night’s sleep before my big day tomorrow.

San Francisco, I’m ready for you!


Friday Links 2012: Week 5

This week was so crazy. I hardly had time to check email and read my morning websites. In fact, I don’t think I read my normal allotment of sites a single day this week, so I apologize for the lame links.

As I said in my other blog, I’m not quite ready to share everything with Cyber Land yet, but I promise it will happen within the next few days.

Anyway, here you go:

And a picture from today just because I thought this tea was pretty.

(**Squeals!!**)

I hope your week was productive and that your February started out wonderfully!


Why Social Media? Because I Said So.

If you are reading this blog it probably means that you are relatively well versed in the world of social media. You may have a Facebook account that you use to keep in touch with friends, a Twitter account that you use to follow your favorite celebrities, and a LinkedIn account for connecting to colleagues. Even if it does not play a key role in your profession, you still use it for personal reasons.

my Mac wireless keyboard

Because of your use of social media, you have most likely heard people complain each time Facebook or Twitter changes the appearance of the site. You have heard comments about how stupid, pointless, and time-consuming social media is. You’ve probably even thought of those things yourself once or twice. Well, unfortunately for everybody who complains about social media (but fortunately for me, somebody who makes a living partially from knowing the ins and outs of social media), it isn’t going anywhere.

The two jobs that I have now are both centered around social media. For one of them I am a Media Specialist and helped develop the entire social media campaign for the brand. For the other, Sustainable Danville Area*, I was hired, with grant money designated specifically for social media development for local businesses, in order to help develop the social media platform for SDA, and its participating businesses. More accurately, actually, the grant was for the Danville Area Sustainable Business program, but that’s neither here nor there.

The reason I am telling you all this is because, up until last night, I never realized how difficult it is to describe the importance, rather, the imperativeness of social media.

Last night, as I stood in front of 20 sustainable local business owners and explained how I was going to help them increase their use and effectiveness of social media, I was greeted by two types of looks:

  1. Half of them looked at me as though they had never heard terms “Facebook,” “Twitter,” and “Hashtag” in their lives
  2. The other half looked at me with recognition of the terms, but no idea how to put a “hashtag” into effect

Oy vey. I had my work cut out for me.

Without assistance from an overhead projector to show what I was talking about so everybody could see, my words just seemed empty. They had no idea what a Twitter handle was. They didn’t understand that every time you put “#” and then a word, it turns into a link to a page that shows you everybody else who is talking about that same topic. They didn’t get why that was even important.

I know it’s kinda ridiculous for me to get frustrated with them, after all, the fact that not everybody knows the ins and outs of social media is what keeps me in business, but it was very hard for me to fight the urge to take the parent-child question stance and answer every “Why does it do that?” and “Why is that important?” and “How will that help me with my brand?” question with “Because it just does.” “Because it just is.” and “Because it just will.” It was exhausting to explain everything so many times without having a computer in front of me. Try explaining the internet to your aunt or uncle who still sends you Pokemon cards for your birthday, still hasn’t switched over to MP3s from cassette tapes, and still uses a typewriter instead of a computer. It’s extremely difficult.

my dad's old typewriter

I’m kind of kidding about that. But in all honesty, I will never try to explain anything having to do with the internet unless myself or the person I am talking to or both of us are in front of a computer.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy teaching people what I know about social media. It means that my skills are relevant and despite the widespread knowledge about how to use the internet (especially with people my own age), not everybody knows how to use it.

After the presentations were over I had the opportunity to speak to a few local business owners one-on-one. This gave me an opportunity to use my laptop and show them my personal twitter account. Once I showed them what I meant by hashtags, followers, and user names, they perked up a bit. Once I told them that there are applications they can use to schedule posts so they didn’t have to be online all day every day, they were ecstatic. They got so excited that they all wanted to schedule one-on-one social media tutoring sessions with me. It was so nice to see their enthusiasm once they could see what I was talking about.

Although I am so happy to help them with their small businesses, I’m not going to lie and say that it wasn’t a relief to wake up this morning and connect to the social media world full of people who actually understand the platforms they are using (that means you!). I’m thrilled that so many local businesses want to receive help with their social media, but I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to explain the purpose and importance of social media in layman’s terms.

Okay, now that I’ve vented a bit I am feeling a little bit better about my presentation last night (I got emails from a few of the businesses who were in attendance – yay!)

Have you ever tried to explain the uses of social media to somebody who didn’t quite understand the purpose? How did you handle it? What have you found to be the best tactics for explaining platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest?

*Don’t judge our website. I haven’t had time yet, but I am planning on taking a good hard look at the functionality of the website and make changes so that it is more organized.


Twitter-vention

Earlier this month, as I was curled up in bed with my beloved Glamour magazine, I came across an article entitled “Twitter DOs & DON’Ts: Your 10 Tweeting Commandments” and, naturally, I was intrigued. As I quickly breezed past the basic rules such as “DO play nice” and “DON’T bitch about work. This is not the place (and—hello!—they can see you).”

I was about to turn the page since it is all stuff I’d heard before… that is, until I reached Commandment Number 6: “DON’T exceed your tolerable four-tweets-a-day limit.” My heart stopped.

WHAT?! But BufferApp lets me schedule up to FIFTY-TWEETS-A-DAY, and you’re telling me that I can only post four times if I want to be nice to my followers?!

Once I collected myself, I decided I would hold a personal Twitter-vention and ask a few friends who are in similar industries as I what they had to say. Luckily we were already in a group Gchat so I didn’t have to look too far to get some advice.

When I announced my surprise, frustration, and yes, shame at the number of allotted Tweets per day, I was greeted with affirmation that more than four Tweets a day was a little excessive. But there was a catch: more than four Tweets a day was only excessive if the main purpose of the Tweeter in question was to inform their followers of their personal life. (See Commandment Number 2: “DON’T overshare.”)

After we established that some people share way, WAY too much on Twitter, we also agreed that it was okay for certain accounts to post more than their allotted four-tweets-a-day. These accounts include (but are not limited to):

  1. TV/Web Personalities (as long as they are entertaining) 
  2. Informative Blogs/Websites 
  3. Amusing Bloggers 
  4. News Stations 
  5. Innovative and Funny Accounts 
  6. Harry Potter Parodies (as long as they are funny) 
  7. Justin Bieber 

Whew. My anxiety subsided a little bit. I tend to use Twitter for a combination of personal and professional information – an activity that I don’t recommend since it is not easily accomplished. I never post things immensely personal to myself or my friends. I don’t post anything that I wouldn’t want my boss to read or that my parents would be shocked to see. Sometimes I post opinions, include videos, or share random thoughts, but that is very rare and definitely doesn’t exceed the four-a-day limit.

I do, however, post an average of seven professional/newsworthy Tweets a day, as well as one or two good retweets. (Note: This number is for week days – on weekends I hardly ever post professional/newsworthy things, and I tend to only post four times a day on Saturday and Sundays.)

Today I cam across the following Tweet from @BufferApp: 

After clicking through to the link and reading through the  blog post, I was put at ease. The post encourages bloggers to retweet their post four times in order to gain maximum coverage. That is 14% of your weekly Tweet allowance. If I’m writing three blog posts a week and Tweeting about those posts four times each, that takes up 42% of my allowance!! No way is that correct.

Through the research I’ve done since discovering that Glamour article, I’ve decided that the four-tweets-a-day allotment goes for personal Tweets. That does not include professional tweets, articles, retweets, or replies to followers/Tweets you find interesting.

Maybe I’m kidding myself and I’m just a Twitter addict, but either way, until I’m proven wrong, I’m going to just continue doing what I’m doing.

What do you think? How do you use Twitter? How many posts is too many on any given day? What are your favorite accounts to follow?


Friday Links 2012: Week 2

Hope you had a fantastic week!

Click here to see more friday links (the non-professional ones… the “fun” ones if you will) and my photos of the week.

And just because this is so incredibly important, I have included it on both my blogs.


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