A Long-Awaited Break

Since before I can remember, I’ve wanted a break. When I was in college and took summer classes, and packed my time with jobs, 21-credit semesters, and internships, I’ve wanted a break. When I jumped straight from college into a job, I wanted a break. When I moved to New York, and from company to company, I wanted a break.

By break, I don’t just mean a few weeks off to get married (for those of you who’ve gotten married, you know this isn’t a break), but a real, true, sit on my ass and do nothing but get my mind straight, break.

So in October, I decided to do it. Take off the month of November to just be. I tied my loose ends, checked my bank account, and quit my job. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I’d feel, or what those around me would think. Would I seem lazy? Careless? Privileged? Or God forbid… Millennial!?

I hate to say that I care what people think, but I do. Especially the people I love, appreciate, and admire. But if I’m really honest with myself, what I care about above all is transparency. I can understand the need for a social highlight reel, for sharing the good, and portraying oneself in the best light. But I don’t understand why that’s it. Why we never reveal any other aspect of ourselves. To me, sharing in each others humanity is far more powerful. Embracing each other during the ups, and cradling each other during the downs.

So I decided to share my news. Admitting that I felt disconnected from myself, my city, my relationships. Confessing that I wasn’t doing the best, or being the best I could. Revealing that even a few days in, I could still feel half of my body in knots, and the other half slowly unraveling. It was terrifying.

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Deep down, I knew, and know others feel the same way. So why don’t we talk about our vulnerabilities? Why don’t we talk about fading friendships, faltering love, and failure when these conversations can liberate us?

When I pressed “post” on Facebook, I braced myself. I knew some people might read my post and see the frailty and naiveté of my character. But I also knew that some people might empathize. I didn’t, however, expect the outpouring of support – from my friends, my parents friends, my family all over the world. The “best decision in world!”s, and the “THIS IS NUTS (in an awesome way!)”s, and the “you deserve it!”s.

It wasn’t just sympathy or empathy. It was people throwing convention to the wayside and standing by me when I was most vulnerable.

In retrospect, I don’t know why I was that surprised. Especially now, when solidarity is pulsing through all of us. When we’re all tapping into the same positive, loving, helpful, encouraging consciousness, whether we live next door to one another, or across the globe.

The world is a scary place, but our community is beautiful.

Thank you for your kindness, understanding, and support. May we all continue to inject one another’s lives with this same sense of friendship, camaraderie, and unity.

Love,

A

My (Biggest) Struggle of being an Indian Girl

If you’ve kept up with Jointly at all in the past almost two years (ahh!), you probably know by now that one of my favorite things to write, discuss, and vent about is being Indian. In most cases I like to joke (but never exaggerate) about what it’s like to be an Indian girl, but today I want to be totally honest and share with all of you, my biggest struggle as an Indian girl.

I’ve always known my biggest pain point with my ethnicity, but the full extent of it didn’t really hit me until I finished Mindy Kaling’s latest book, Why Not Me. The number one reason I struggle with being Indian is because Indian culture prohibits me from being 100% real with all of you. I always think about my goals as a writer and how I can further refine my voice and skill only to realize that I can’t really, because I’m Indian.

Now, before going any further, I would like to caveat that this post is based solely on my personal experience and feelings. Additionally, I would like to make it undeniably clear that I love being Indian and could not imagine my life in any other way. Okay? Okay, moving on…

I feel that, as an Indian woman, I have a certain image to maintain. I should conduct my life with the perfect amount of grace, respect and reservation. I should share little and keep my personal life, especially the portion of it grandparents may frown upon, personal. And to a certain extent, I totally agree with this. I am all for grace and you probably can’t find a girl who loves and respects people (who deserve it), more than I do. But not sharing…I’m sure you can see how that would hold me back as a writer.

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                          Indian girls should be all shy and shit

As I got deeper and deeper into Mindy’s stories, I couldn’t help but go a little bug-eyed as I read about her love life, how she enjoys filming sex scenes and her excessive drinking (and McDonald’s eating). I was shocked but inspired and could feel my already present admiration for her grow as I flipped each page. She is real, I thought. I want to be real too.

And I try to be. I really do. I’m sure you can tell from some of my writing. But there are certain personal topics I avoid completely, as I know my audience. But I’m getting to the point where I’m old enough to not care what other people think. I’ve been raised well and I know right from wrong and appropriate from inappropriate. I mean…it’s not like I want to be a lingerie model. Just a good writer. If you want to be a lingerie model (which I would also totally support, to each their own), and this post inspires you to do so, please do not tell your strict Indian parents that I gave you the idea. If you need someone to blame, blame Mindy.

Love,

K

P.S. For all Indians reading this and preparing to judge me for the unfiltered stories I am to tell in the future, just know – I heard young adults in India are way worse.

A Search for Beautiful Minds

In 2011, I met someone who was going to change my life. This was the year I moved to New York (almost four years ago exactly!), so I was meeting a lot of people who would impact my life in ways big and small. But this certain person was truly going to transform it, in more ways than one.

His name was Griffin Farley. He was in his early thirties, and was an Engagement Planning Director at BBH New York. I was coming in as a Social Media Strategist/Community Manager (yes, I community managed) that had little to no idea what she was doing. To my ex-collegues – pretend I didn’t just confess that. New York was a intimidating as hell. I was surrounded by some of the most successful people in advertising, I felt like a child (because I always mitigate my experience), and I didn’t have any friends (not because the people weren’t lovely, because the Google account was the busiest and there was little time for niceties). Sounds like a sob story, but this is really how it felt! Of course, it eventually changed, and now some of my closest friends came out of my time at BBH, but the beginning was stressful and solitary.

Griffin was easily one of the nicest people I’d ever met. He maintained a sense of cool composure, even on the most demanding days. Off the bat, he validated my presence at such an amazing agency. He quickly realized my strengths, boasted them to all who would listen, and helped me fill out my weaknesses. He brought me into meetings I had no business being in, and would celebrate my quiet contributions.

Griffin’s kindness was just the cherry on top. His entire being brimmed with brilliance. At the young professional age of thirty, he redefined the communications planning discipline and brought light to propagation planning – “planning not for the people you read, but the people they reach.” Genius, right? Can you believe we didn’t always think that way? He brought this way of thinking to the core of my skill set, and I still use his philosophies every single day. No exaggeration.

In February 2013, Griffin passed away. He had been diagnosed with Mesothelioma in the months prior, and it was grave. At this point, I was an integrated member of the amazing BBH family (much in part to Griffin), and I have to say, we held so much hope. Every time he felt better, or came into the office, we thought he was going to make it. He’d sit as his desk, looking so weak, but so determined. Wanting nothing more than to come to work and do his work. It kept him going, he said. That’s what I call passion! I went to his house and visited one day, the sun was spilling in, it was bright and lively and beautiful. His little girls were sprinting around him, and he looked happy. Fulfilled.  I’m so glad I got to see him in his space – I felt like I truly understood where his love for life came from.

Since Griffin’s death, BBH has been hosting a workshop called “Griffin Farley Search for Beautiful Minds.” It’s the most incredible event I’ve ever been a part of. It’s alive with positivity and passion. It takes his unmatched love for mentoring young talent and injects it into every single participant. It brings together young talent who wants to break into advertising with those who are able to teach, help, and move them forward. Including the head of strategy at Google, 360i, Co:Collective, and more. It’s really remarkable.

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Every year, I sit with myself afterwards, considering how blessed I am to have known Griffin. And how much of him I now see in myself as I grow into the leader he always told me I could be.

All of this is to say, THANK YOU to the incredible team at BBH, and for everyone who’s keeping Griffin alive through their work. It means so much to so many.

Love,

A

A New New Yorker | A Writer in New York | Tale 3

Well goddamn, it’s been awhile.

I always used to twist A’s arm a bit about not putting enough time into this blog and she would always tell me it’s because she didn’t have enough time. I would sort of roll my eyes and ask my mom what she’s so busy with, but she never knew either. I don’t think I understood this concept of lack of time until I moved to New York.

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I don’t know what it is about this city but it truly consumes you. All your energy and all of your time. You get so stuck in your day-to-day life and trying your best to take any free time you do have to sprinkle in some stuff from your New York City bucket list (or binge watch Netflix because sometimes a girls just gotta relax and turn her brain off). All of this leaves you tired, drained and honestly – not really wanting to exert your brain in trying to write a blog post that is the perfect amount of analytics, truth and wit.

It’s funny, really. I always thought this city would inspire me. Well, it definitely does it some ways, just not the ways I expected or wanted it to. I thought it would bring out this artistic, creative talent that was hidden inside of me, waiting for the right place to unlock it. I envisioned myself spending weekends at various coffee shops writing or working in Photoshop, drinking black coffee and fawning over men in turtle necks. But instead New York City has unlocked the determined fighter in me. The one who works her butt off at work, and pushes through throngs of people near Penn Station only to come home and squat her butt off in the gym. The one who is fixated on having it all – a killer job, a fit bod, a bustling social life, at least two planned vacations at a time and time to attend any and all the New York specific events she can.

You can imagine that in trying to do it all, the first few things that drop off your “to do” list are the ones that take the most heart, soul and mind. And for me that’s writing. It’s a shame because out of everything, writing is probably the one thing I want to be working on the most. But for some reason, New York won’t let me.

I think the problem is that in New York, I keep myself so busy that I don’t have time to truly assess and explore my feelings. I feel something for a second and then I’m thrown into a new project at work, forced to re-route my way home to avoid a rowdy group of men on the sidewalk or running out the door to meet up with friends and down a bottle of champagne at brunch.

I thought that this is what writers did. I thought they lived their lives to write about them. Instead I’m finding that it’s hard to do both. There’s being a writer (experiencing things that you plan to write about but never really finding the time to do so) and then there’s being a writer (focusing less on doing things you can write about and actually putting pen to paper). And I want to be one.

Love,

K

A New New Yorker | Tale 1

Well, I’ve done it – I’m a New Yorker! At least, as much as I can be five days into my move here. I’ve mostly spent my first week here taking a mental break from work, actually hitting the gym, going out on solo expeditions and giving an excessive amount of love to my puppy nephew Kingston.

The more time I spend in this city, the more I come to see the difference between New Yorkers and the rest of the world. It first hit me at a Moth GrandSLAM event – where people take the stage to share their own personal stories with the audience. There I realized, through both the stories and audience participation, that New Yorkers are unapologetically themselves. They aren’t afraid to (in my Midwest opinion, over) share tidbits of themselves with complete strangers – no matter how dirty the truth is. People sent slips, though anonymous, up to the host during judging breaks telling tales of “that time I got stuck in a sand dune during a threesome” or “when I did cocaine with the guy that I was in love with…and his girlfriend”. Actual performers shared in their struggles with depression, losing loved ones and accidental viewing of child pornography.

On the streets of New York, you’ll see completely normal city dwellers fully embracing themselves – whether that means wearing what I perceive to be a ridiculous outfit, having open and loud conversations about their weekend activities or driving down the street with the windows down, putting on a Beyonce-inspired show for everyone.

At times I would have found all of this alarming and, for lack of better word, improper. I have not been raised to catch attention of strangers or overshare my personal stories. But now, just five days into my move, these people make me smile. To be yourself, so unfiltered for the world to see, is such a beautiful thing.

As I’ve shared with all of you before, one of the things I’ve personally been seeking is a better understanding of myself. Maybe it’s because I’m 23 and that’s too young to truly know you, or maybe it’s because I stayed in one city for eight years, not pushing past my comfort zone. Whatever it is, I’m confident that taking a few years to grow in a place where people are comfortable to explore and be themselves is just what I need.

Dreams For Sale

Happy hump day!

After searching for what seems like ever, I’m finally bringing you my latest playlist. It has months worth of emotions in it, so I can’t say it only has one feel, but I can say that I always put soul in them, but this one has heart.

Dreams For Sale

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Special shout out to P and N for sharing their impeccable taste in music with me.

Hope you grow to love and feel these songs as much as I do!

Always yours,

K

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Goodness. TGIF, am I right? This week has been an intense one. Who would’ve thought 2015 would get off to such a crazy start! In honor of a weekend off to play, explore, and get inspired, we wanted to share a few things that we’ve been loving lately.

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Since the only places I’ve been exploring lately are my work email inbox and my client’s conference rooms, I’ve been low on the Jointly-acceptable fun-stuff. But one thing I’ve still be on, is stalking my favorite personalities on Instagram (primarily during plane taxi-ing). Here are a few profiles I’ve been loving (both new loves, and old loves):

1. R.M. Drake brings poetry into the world of Instagram. He’s a writer and Etsy shop owner, and his work is just beautiful. Such a welcome interruption to the regularly eye-candy oriented content. Makes you stop, read, and consider life.

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2. Witchoria does the same thing as @rmdrk for me. Makes me break out of my idle scroll. Her content is just as haunting as it is beautiful. It’s dark, but I’m okay with that. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, and I appreciate people who can address the good and the bad.

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3. Protect Your Magic is actually an online shop with amazing products that all don the line “Protect Your Magic.” A friend of mine from Mother actually re-grammed a photo recently, and I spent the next hour (and stayed up way too late) looking at all of the awesome products in the PYM shop and pondering her message:

We all have a magic about us. A magic that we should project but protect at the same time. Mine is my loyalty.. thats my magic. Whats your magic and how do you protect it? 

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K

1. This face map that tells your exactly why you have that random breakout

2. Can you imagine cuddling in this sweater, wooo-eeee!

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3. This empowering article for women and minorities found on Cleveland Craine’s – it’s just a perk that it’s about my dad!

4. Thanks to my lovely friend R, yesterday I discovered that the Apple Store hosts a ton of great events. I switched my night plans around yesterday to attend Eating with Your Eyes: Chicago Food Authority. Basically this was a Q&A hosted by the super charming Samantha Roby. Topics covered included, but were not limited to – her path to creating Chicago Food Authority, how to take the best photos for Instagram, and how to not give a sh*t when you have to stand on a chair at a 5 star restaurant to get a good photo. As I like to say, #doitforthelikes.

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While I can’t say that I learned anything new, it was super inspiring and exciting to be in a room filled with many of Chicago’s finest content curators. That being said, I’ve already cleared tonight to attend another similar event!

Hope you find some time to get inspired this weekend.

Jointly yours,

A & K