I am a work in progress

I am a work in progress

It’s been over a year since I graduated college, moved back home, went unemployeed for over half that time, borrowed too much money from my parents, moved to a new city, started a new job, and began this thing called, “adulting.”

It’s been over a year I told myself I would give myself a break from theatre (participating, not seeing), to give myself a chance to understand who I am outside the performing arts.

It’s been a year ago since I really felt like myself.

Maybe it’s my crippling anxiety and depression but let me tell you, nothing prepares you for life outside the bubble that’s college. In college, you’re surrounded by the same people, places, entertainment and expectations. Now, in adulthood, effort to keep friendships is even harder, saving money becomes near impossible and fulfilling life-long aspirations become more of a dream than a promising reality.

Maybe it’s just my journey where I feel this way but seriously, like “Dear Evan Hansen” puts it:

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To put it as eliquently as I can… Adulting is hard, and I’ve learned it can be really lonely.

For one, I’m a social butterfly. Think of it like Tinkerbell: I don’t need attention, I need people in order to live. I enjoy my alone time and doing things by myself but it’s not the same as actively feeling lonely.

I live for the personal connections we make in this world. We’re nothing without the people we hold close to us: family, friends, mentors, coaches, teachers, directors, you name it. Those are the people who make us who we are today. Even that, I haven’t been able to see all those people who mean the most to me as often as I’d like.

But for over a year, I’ve put a lot of what I’ve wanted on the backburner. Any dreams I once had have gone out the window. Any expectations I had for myself and my future have disappeared. I don’t look forward to really much anymore, except when I see a show or the chance I do get to see my friends.

In the beginning of the year, I left my home in Ithaca, in the comfort of my best friends and my family, to move three hours away into the unknown to take this chance. A chance to start over, become someone instead of something.

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It’s been almost seven months and the most exciting thing I’ve done is see almost a dozen shows. I’ve seen my friends in Buffalo, but since I work weekends, it’s a rare adventure now. I’ve seen my friends in Ithaca, but we haven’t all been together since March before I started working. I’ve crossed shows off my list, but I haven’t been a part of the theatrical process since Playground last summer. I have a job that pays decent for what it’s worth, but I’m in a never-ending loop of getting up, going to work and then coming home to sleep.

There’s no excitement. There’s no fire, spark. I don’t really have that purpose in me anymore. I’m lonely, I’m lost, I’m struggling and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

Maybe I haven’t been the best of friend, maybe I haven’t reached out like I usually do, maybe I’ve kept all of these feelings to myself because to me, I just feel like I don’t know how to handle this whole adulthood idea when everyone around me does. I feel like I’m behind everyone who’s much more successful than I am at this point in life.

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I’ve become what I’ve feared the most; a failure. I’m only 24, I know I shouldn’t be feeling this way, but here I am.

Now, I’ve always been behind everyone else my entire life. Newest trend? I got into it after it was a thing. Supposed to be reading at a fifth grade level? Whoops, I’m reading at a first grade level. Discovered a new hit song? Well, it’s been number one for over four weeks now. Should be getting a job related to my field of choice like my friends are? Nope, I’m no where near that.

No matter how hard I try, I am always four steps behind everyone else. I’ve always have, and I’ve grown accustomed to maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

If you’ve kept reading thus far (thank you!), I promise, I’m not here for pity or anything like that. I’ve been feeling like this for quite some time and since speaking from the heart can be the trickest to articulate, I’ve found comfort coming back to my writing. Finding that one security of putting my feelings and thoughts out there that maybe, just maybe, someone else is in the same boat as me. That I can stop feeling like I’m alone in this huge world.

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I’m trying to find that passion within me again, but it’s only getting me so far when I’m stuck living the same reality each day. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, maybe I haven’t really started over like I’ve planned since this whole year began.

I’m an ambitious person, when I have my mind set to something, there’s no changing it. I find that to be one of my best qualities. But when you don’t have anything set as a goal, where do you go? How do you start?

Something has to change. My job? Maybe. My aspirations? Probably. Where I am? I don’t know.

Maybe this is what rock bottom feels like. Well, if I’m at this so-called bottom, I can only go up from here. That’s the first goal, going up!

Hey, look! We’re already making progress.

Eight days into 2018

Eight days into 2018

The first few days of 2018 have been absolutely insane. I turned 24, I officially moved to a new city, I saved a man from a fire, I’ve got those “new year goals” underway and I’ve witnessed the environment reach negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit. I know, Happy New Year to me!

To be quite honest, it hasn’t been all that bad. Actually, it’s been really great. I’ll give you a quick synopsis of each point above.

Turning 24

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Yeah. 24. I’ve been living on this Earth for over 24 years. I’ve seen and done a lot over these past few years alone and I’m just starting to see where my light is heading. I’m started to fully grasp the direction I should be heading in. It doesn’t mean I understand where exactly this light is heading or why I’m going this way but I feel moving in forward. 2017 made me have so many “Ah-ha” moments, I’ve had some of my largest revelations. After having those moments, I’ve looked at life in a complete different focus and point of view. “Her dreams went out the door when she turned 24,” from the hit song “1985” by Bowling for Soup is quickly proving to be quite accurate. Because the dreams I had at 23 are certainly not the dreams I have going into my 24th year. And I hope those dreams keep changing and happening.

Moving to a new city

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I’M IN BUFFALO! On Dec. 30, I packed up almost all my things from my parent’s house in Ithaca, NY, and traveled 121 miles West to Buffalo: “An All America City.” And yes, that is the sign that welcomes those on the New York State Thruway into the city. All my things are slowly and surely settling into place in my apartment. It’s spacious, tons of storage, great water pressure, (literally) seconds away from everything in town and an array of stores that can’t be found in Ithaca. I’ve been living here for almost a week and the things I miss the most are (in this order:) my dog, my family and friends, the local restaurants and Ithaca’s natural beauty. I started the job hunt and I am optimistic that the city will lead me to a job and money in the bank!

Saving a man from a fire

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Yes, I did help save a man in a fire. And yes, Wonder Woman captures how I feel looking back on that moment. During the second night of 2018 my mom and I were playing cards at our dining room table when I was about to stare aimlessly outside the window, at what I thought would be my reflection, turned out to be a fire starting on my neighbor’s porch. I yelled out, “FIRE!”, to my mom, running towards the phone to dial 9-1-1. A trembling in my chest lingered as I waited until an operator answered, my mom rushing out to her car to drive across the street (our house sits back ways from the road) to save anyone who was in the house. I ran up to the top of our driveway and just watched. The smell of debris flew through the air, the clouds of smoke filled the sky, and the illuminating light of yellow and orange colors pierced though me. A man is going to see 2018 because my mom and I saved him. An honor of a lifetime.

New Year, new goals

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I’m not one for the whole, “New Year, new me” mentality. In actuality, the “new” entails new beginnings, new adventures, new experiences. We should be continuing to change and grow as humans. That’s an inevitable part of life, change, but the change we endure shouldn’t make us into necessarily “new” people. We’re just discovering who we’re meant to be in every moment of our lives. I’m also not prone to keeping goals; I’m ambitious and capable of a lot of things and unfortunately, keeping goals is one I’m just not capable of (yet.) So that’s why, in 2018, I am going to be keeping some goals. I don’t find them out of reach or one’s I won’t be able to keep throughout the next 357 days remaining in 2018.

  • Use a planner every day/week
  • Plan a trip for 2018 and 2019
  • Save $5,500
  • Read at least 20 books
  • Experience more theatre
  • See my student loans under $30,000 (or as close to that as possible)
  • Live a healthier lifestyle
  • Blog more (I bought a domain, I should use it more.)
  • Take a photography class (and pursue photography more in general)
  • Live life with more fulfillment

Negative 20 degree Fahrenheit

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Shit was cold. It was crazy insane. Yeah, that’s all I got on the weather. Buffalo weather is really cold and changes almost as much as the weather changes in Ithaca.

So with 2018 settling in on all of us, I hope to find this year with lots of successes, failures, lessons, goals, changes and experiences. From the classic musical written by the late Jonathan Larson, “Rent:” “It’s gonna be a happy New Year.”

Because we’re always starting over

Because we’re always starting over

So I am the literal worst. I graduated college, bought myself a domain and was like, “Zoe, you’re going to keep up a blog!”

Fast forward a few months later and I haven’t posted anything. It’s wicked hard when you’re trying to find a job, figuring out how to pay your student loans, pay for all the other things life has to offer, have a social life, binge watch “How I Met Your Mother” before Nov. 13, understand the meaning of life and being this scary thing called an adult. Girl, I am exhausted from just typing all of that. GAH. MER. MAH. ARGH. BLAH. AAAH!

Okay. Cleansing Breath. Hakuna Matata.

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There’s no real reason why I haven’t been writing, it just hasn’t happened. I got promoted to full time adult back in May and life has been anything but calm. I had a cool summer job at Chautauqua that brought alongside homesickness, loneliness and a lot of adventures. I worked at a summer theatre camp for two weeks and that is the last time I have been involved with theatre (excluding seeing performances). I moved back home to Ithaca in August and have been on the look out for some sort of job since while also taking care of my mom, cleaning, cooking, shopping and living the life of a 23 year-old college graduate.

No matter how neat my resume is or how articulated my cover letters are (side note: job hunt it going great, absolutely no interviews or responses), I’m still finding myself at one of life’s moments when you think you might have hit a dead end but need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I can tell you right now that there is a light, a faded light that illuminates a pale yellow peaking out of the tiniest hole imaginable, but it’s there. I can barely see it but it still counts!

Even through all the chaos, mayhem and anxiety towards the future, a lot of great things have happened.

I’ve taken a few random adventures by myself. I’ve become more savvy in social media. I’ve witnessed my first wedding as an adult and was in one for that matter. I’ve made a few wild decisions. I’ve started to focus on myself. I’m slowly losing the “square” and “box-like” personality associations I gained during college. I’m trying to branch out from what I am so used to in order to grow.

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I’ve gained new friends, I’ve lost friends, I’m heading back towards my roots, I’m doing what I want to do and I’m putting together the pieces in a never ending puzzle while taking my life one day at a time.

I’m becoming a better me, at least I’m trying to be, but there will be more mistakes along the way, bridges to be crossed, situations to handle and adventures to be had.

Sometimes you gotta go through some tough shit to grow through it all. And sometimes that means starting over.

And starting over is just a way of life saying, “It’s time to move on.”

I was without data for 29 days and here’s what happened

I was without data for 29 days and here’s what happened

Like the headline? I’ve seen many articles where the writer goes, “I’ve done this and here’s what happened,” on “Buzzfeed” or “Bustle.” Without ever realizing it, I had a situation of my own that would fit this kind of headline.

And I am here to talk about that experience.

So I was without data for 30 days. I know, the idea of a millennial without their phone having internet or connection to the whole world in the palm of their hands, literally, is a huge travesty.

Okay, I’d be lying if I told you that having no data was easy.

I just moved back to Fredonia in May for the summer and was without internet for almost four whole days. Time was going extra slow those days. I procrastinated too long and didn’t make an appointment to have people set up my internet and box. My data was going to come back onto my and my moms’ new cycle that Thursday.  I get back my allotted amount of data t

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hat Thursdays and not even in 24 hours did I blow through 2 GB of data.

I am one of those people. I called my mom and she nearly had a heart attack over the news.

“Zoe Dimitra Kiriazis, how the *bleep* does one go through 2 GB of data in not even a day? Kim and I don’t even go through out one gig. a month!” she said. By the sounds of it, she was impressed, clearly not angry.

“1 day down, 29 more to go. I can do it!” I said.

“What’s a month without data because you know, the only way you can get connected to the world are the limited places in town that have Wi-Fi available,” I thought.

 

The first week or so were rough. I’m not going to lie. As millennials we’ve grown with the growth, privileges and modifications that have been made in the technology industry.  I remember in elementary school when kids started getting a Razor phone; you were the cool one if you got one of the colored ones.

This was also the start of knowing how to spell words based on numbers. Although a helpful skill to have, the next advancement in phone technology came about.

Then everyone would be getting the enV and env2 which included a T8-keyboard for an easier texting experience as well as the “flipped open keyboard selfie at the bathroom mirror” trend occurred.

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Then the iPhone started making its grand appearance and presence; it was then when cell phones became the next big trend and hit.

 

I didn’t have a phone until I got to high school and I didn’t get my first smart phone until I graduated high school. Every one of my friends had a smartphone of some sort, connected to the internet and Facebook like it was no big deal. At the time I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. If it was something of dire importance, I would check when I got home.

Well, I’m afraid I don’t have that same mindset now. I have to be connected with internet to keep up with what is going on in the world, who’s posted on Instagram and to keep filter of any emails that come through. Maybe it’s the curious bud within me or maybe it’s because I’m working to become a better journalist? I’m not too sure.

And while we’re being honest with each other, I check my phone way too much; sometimes I’ll even check it when I am talking to friends deliberately.

 

It’s out of habit, my foolish need to be on my phone when this rectangle is only 5.94 x 2.86 x 0.30 in.. I don’t understand how something so small and powerful can take over someone so innocently.

Having no data to escape to, I’ve found my conversations were more meaning some. I had more to say than when I didn’t have Facebook to check every 10 seconds, when I didn’t have to play against my opponents in Yahtzee or my horoscope to check randomly. When a conversation was at an awkward pause or standstill, I didn’t have my phone to default to. I had to figure out what to say next on the fly without the deliberate pause texting or private messaging naturally brings.

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All of this made me realize the bigger picture which is that we, as individuals, need to stop being so heavily reliant on our mobile devices. We miss moments when we are always on our phones, sucked into the dark hole social media can potentially drown us in and we don’t know how to communicate effectively when there is small screen in front of us.

We’re afraid to make phone calls because we don’t know what to say. We’re afraid of in-person interactions because we don’t know how to handle ourselves.

This is why I want to study communications because we have these tendencies that stem from something else which, in this case, is the protection of our phones from the rest of the world. Connections can’t form if we are hiding behind a small screen.

I’ve been working on not being on my phone as a case of protection. I’ve been using my words to truthfully talk to my friends and family. It’s a process to unlearn what you’ve grown up with but I want to detach myself just a little bit from my phone in order to fully appreciate all of life around me. We miss so much of what is happening now because we are so focused on something else.

I will always love my social media but I am realizing there is more to life than the statuses we post, the 140-character tweets, the likes on Instagram and who’s seen the latest YouTube video.

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Being without data for 30 days was a lot to manage but it got easier as time went on. I can’t promise that I will have data remaining by the end of the cycle but I know it will last longer than 24 hours. And I will make sure I don’t use it when I don’t need to use it.

There’s a whole world to see but only some of us get to experience it when we’re not preoccupied with the uneventful.

Alright, I finally watched “13 Reasons Why” – Part 1

Alright, I finally watched “13 Reasons Why” – Part 1

Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why,” has been out for over two months now and I finally gained the ability to watch it.

Having read the book, multiple reviews, press coverage and more on the show prior to watching the first season, I wasn’t thrilled. I wasn’t excited and was hesitant to become another viewer after reading all the mixed feelings.

But as someone who was bullied throughout her entire youth until she moved to Ithaca after the 7th grade, I didn’t want to admit that I could possibly connect to the show, even at 23 years old. In a few short paragraphs, here’s a synopsis of my youth.

I had only two friends growing up while I had to live through a series of name calling, death wishes on then hit social media site Myspace (R.I.P), had a fake Myspace account made of me, Twinkies thrown in my face, ridiculed for being another awkward pubescent teenager, fat-shamed, sexual harassed and was hated by a lot of people for no concrete reason. I was lonely, depressed and didn’t want to live anymore because of everything that was happening in my youth.

It will be 10 years this month, June 17 to be precise, when it all finally ended.  I became free of all the negativity, the name-calling, sexual harassment and hate.  I remember it all but I don’t hold grudges or hate anyone who did anything. There’s no point. It’s in the past and for one reason or another, it happened for a reason.

But it still happened. It’s in my box of memories that I can never forget. Its shaped who I’ve become as a young adult. And that’s why I connect with the character, Hannah Baker, for many of these reasons.

Watching the first season took me back to that time when I tried to make friends or tried to do the right thing and it backfired on me. I remember being touched by my male classmates and saying no to their gestures, feeling so violated I couldn’t even stop them.

I remember the rumors spread about me that went out to the whole school within a class period, out to people I didn’t even know or interacted with. I remember vividly being suspended out of school for defending myself as someone instigated a fight with me, and then having the blame for the bullying and fighting on me from all my teachers and administrators.

Day in and day out I would watch people stare and talk as I stood in my faded and worn out top red locker for two years in the 6th and 7th grade wings at Woodbury, confused as I tried to find the right words to say. Something to make it all stop so I didn’t have to cry myself to sleep each night.

It might be over 10 years ago by now but I still remember: faces and names and moments. No matter how hard I try I can’t change my narrative. I can’t make up what I have lived through.

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I didn’t lie and Hannah Baker didn’t lie about what she went through either. I believed every tape she made when I read the book and watched the series. You can’t make events; like being bullied, ridiculed, sexual harassed, and for Hannah and Jessica, being raped, up. It was her narrative to tell.

I connect with Hannah and I understand her motives. I understand why she wanted to kill herself. I understand why she made the tapes; in order for the other students to truly understand exactly what they did, how it stuck with Hannah and how those moments shaped her perception of the world and people in her tiny town.

Some people, in the show and some in real-life, think that making the tapes were all for attention. I don’t agree with the approach of what became of the tapes in the show but the motives are clear. There is nothing than a person who has experienced severe bullying wants is the straightforward, truthful answer to the simple question.

Why?

Why was I was the one ridiculed for so many years?

Why was I always touched when I said no?

What did I do that was so horrific that nobody wanted to be seen with me?

Why did you do it?

Why did so many people watch and not say a word?

Why me?

Just… why?

All Hannah wanted was an answer to the hell she was living in. Heck, that’s all I wanted growing up, too. Some I got, some I didn’t but I don’t need those questions answered anymore. Hannah was never able to receive a reason why but she gave her reasons why.

All I want is for teenagers and young students to not go through the hell and misery I went through or go through what Hannah went through depicted from a book to the screen.

If there is one lesson to take away from this show: words have more power than we recognize or believe they do. Words, hurtful and degrading words, are more powerful than the people who actually say them.

Be kind. Be good. Everyone is going through a battle you know nothing about. And bullying shows the character of the bully, not the bullied.

Part 2 featuring what I found enjoyable and powerful in “13 Reasons Why” will be coming in a few days.

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