I had another fight with my mom today. She was telling me how she tells everyone that I’m doing well and I’m happy, and this fight is like a flashback to when I was depressed and angry all the time.

What is the point of telling me that?

Seriously, what is the point?

I don’t bother to tell her that if she sits down and really examines the time that we spend together, it has significantly decreased over the past few years. Before I went to California, I felt like we fought every day, but I also saw her every day. With the hours that I work now, three days in a row can go by without me seeing a single person in my family, and you know what? That doesn’t bother me. I like it, even.

And I think that’s really sad. I want to be excited to see my family and to talk to them and spend time with them, but we just aren’t that family. We don’t do things together. We used to have dinner together every night, but that stopped when my sisters went away to college. It’s not the end of the world, plans change and schedules change and with everyone working full time now, we’re not home at the same time to eat dinner together every day. Fine.

But we also don’t see movies together. Our tastes are too different- it’s impossible to agree on something. We don’t have family game night. I don’t go to church with the rest of the family. I just don’t feel like we have any real sense of “family” beyond living in the same house.

Before I moved home I told my mom how badly I didn’t want to move back here, and she told me not to because if I didn’t want to be here then they didn’t want me here. Just this morning when I told her how uncomfortable I feel, she said she would help me find an apartment.

And that is just what my family does – that’s how we fix things. Are you angry? Go to your room. You want to move out? Move out. You want to get away? Get in your car and drive.

There is no sitting down and talking through it. There is no effort to understand why the fights are happening, what is the root of the discomfort, what can we actually do to make a positive change?

If you have a problem, stop running from it. Running will never make your problem go away. It might delay your having to deal with it, and if that’s your goal then have at it. But if you want to actually fix your problem, you need to face it head on. Have the difficult conversations. See a therapist. Tell your friend they hurt your feelings. Have a voice.

Nobody can read your mind – you can never assume they know how you’re thinking and feeling. Even when you TELL them what you’re thinking and feeling…they still may not understand. But sometimes you have to butt heads with people over and over again before the realization takes place – before the understanding – before the light bulb.

But once that happens, the healing can begin, and trust me, at that point, it all becomes worth it.


Resources for Staying Calm and Organized

Along with my 2016 resolution to live without Facebook and focus on my life without comparing it to others, I have found some amazing resources that are helping me stay organized and on track with my goals.

The first is Passion Planner. I’m obsessed with planning, organizing, writing things down, and color coding, so I’ve always used a planner religiously. I honestly don’t know how I survived before I knew Passion Planner existed. It’s not just a date book to keep your schedule – it helps you map out your goals and break them down into simple, realistic steps, and you set your own deadlines. At the end of each month, there is a journal check in where you reflect on your progress and how to improve for the following month. You choose a focus for each week and each day, and there is a prioritizing to-do list for each week to help you stay focused on pressing matters. You can download a PDF version on the website, but I highly recommend buying one – it’s worth every penny.

The next thing I’ve found really helpful is an iPhone app called Productive. Productive is a habit tracker that has lots of pre-set habits such as “check my posture” and “take medication” and you can also create your own. For each habit you set a frequency (daily, monthly, bi-weely, etc.) and a time (morning, afternoon, evening). You can also set up reminders, and choose which habits you want to be reminded of. Once you complete a habit, you mark it completed, and the app tracks your progress so you can always look and see how many days in a row you’ve completed certain habits, or how many days you’ve completed everything on your list. I will note that to get more than 5 habits you do have to pay for the full version, but it’s a one time purchase of $4.99 and for me it’s definitely been worth it because I use it every day.

Another one of my goals for this year is to spend 30 minutes with God each morning, a tip I picked up from Carlos and Alexa PenaVega on their blog. I start each morning by meditating from 2-10 minutes, a good site to help with this is calm – there is also a calm app, which comes with a 7-day free plan but then requires a monthly subscription which I have not tried out yet. After meditating, I read scripture from a couple different bible apps with reading plans, and pray. I’ve found that this morning routine puts me in a better mood to start the day, and it’s much more relaxing to wake up doing something peaceful and inspiring rather than jumping out of bed and running to the dreaded workplace.

I’m also trying to start yoga, and discovered this YouTube playlist for beginners. I haven’t had the time to do it every day, but I do really like the couple of videos that I’ve followed so far.

Lots of people say being happy starts with your attitude, which I still can’t say I 100% agree with, but I will say that it’s possible to retrain your brain. I used to always wake up dreading the day, so I asked myself, how do I want to feel when I wake up? What do I want to wake up and do? I would love to wake up and go to a photoshoot or a movie set, but that isn’t my career right now, so I have to answer realistically. I want to wake up and not rush. I want to wake up and be calm. That’s where I started, so now rather than setting an alarm for work, I set an alarm for meditation. It does wonders, I promise.

Am I happy yet? I wouldn’t say yes, but I’m not sad. I’m okay. And that’s progress.

Dreaming vs. Doing

I hate the phrase “life’s too short.” I use it sometimes, and I still hate it.

Life is the longest thing you’ll ever experience, so if it’s not long enough, what are we comparing it to? It’s one of those things we just say to justify our actions.

“Life is too short to be angry. Don’t ever be angry.” That’s ridiculous. You’re human. Of course you’re going to get angry. It’s one of the many emotions we get to experience.

“Life is too short not to follow your dreams!” Shonda Rhimes gave the commencement speech for Dartmouth’s graduating class of 2014, and during that speech she said “don’t be a dreamer, be a doer.” Her philosophy is that dreams don’t get us anywhere. You can dream about traveling, or you can sell something, buy a plane ticket, and actually go somewhere. You can dream about being a doctor, or you can actually go to medical school. Shonda’s speech resonated with me because after hearing it I realized I spent the last 4 years dreaming instead of doing.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a singer. I was in 2 of my school’s choirs, I played guitar or piano almost every day, and I wrote music all the time. I was happy, because I spent my time actually doing what I loved. In college, something shifted. I got discouraged by the number of people who had written 100 songs when I’d only written 20, and by the number of people who had actual recording equipment when I didn’t even have a microphone to plug into my laptop. I lost my inspiration to do, and I started to dream. I wanted to be an actress, but I didn’t audition for any plays. I wanted to be a singer, and I took voice lessons, but I stopped playing and writing music, and I didn’t really sing outside of my lessons. I dreamed of being a tv writer, but I didn’t write any scripts beyond what was assigned in class, and I wasn’t passionate about anything I wrote for class, I just wrote it to finish the assignment – to pass the class  – to graduate.

I did join clubs in college: I joined a sorority, I was on student government, and I attended more leadership retreats and workshops than I can count. I had a job on campus, I took a full course load… my schedule was so heavy that it looked like I was always doing something. And I guess I was, doing something… but I wasn’t doing anything that I wanted. Nothing I was passionate about. I accepted the opportunities that came to me because I was worried that if I tried to do something I actually wanted, it would fail and I would have wasted my time. I longed to be part of an a capella group, but my school didn’t have one. I thought about starting one, briefly, but dismissed the idea because I only had about 4 friends and none of them could sing, so where was I supposed to find people to join the group? So instead I dreamed. About what my life would have been like if I had started that a capella group. About how great my life would be when I graduated and became a tv writer, or a singer, or an actress.

So I agree with Shonda – you should be a doer, not a dreamer. I won’t say dreaming is a waste of time, because I think most great actions start with a dream, but make sure that once you have your dream, you go out and do something about it.

What I want to add, is that it’s never too late to start doing, because life isn’t too short and you have time. Now, perhaps if you’re 40 and you decide you want to be an Olympian, you don’t have time for that, but you do have time to learn a sport. You want to ski? Go take lessons. While you’re finding things to do, you should still be realistic about your actions and your dreams.

If you realize you’re like me, and have spent more time dreaming than doing, don’t beat yourself up about how you spent your time. In the past few months, I was binge watching One Tree Hill. Sometimes I look back on the hours that took me and think, “Wow, Samantha, you really wasted a lot of time.” But you know what? I didn’t. That time was not wasted. I love One Tree Hill, I thin the writing is fantastic and there are so many profound quotes throughout the series that honestly make me stop and think and reevaluate my life. I also enjoy the show because it’s entertaining, and on the days that I chose to sit and watch One Tree Hill for an entire day, I chose that because it’s exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to relax and not worry about things, especially after weeks of searching for jobs to no avail, I deserved a day in bed, and there is nothing wrong with taking those days. Don’t ever apologize for spending your time in a way that makes you happy.

Read that last part again, don’t apologize for spending your time in a way that makes you happy

The things I spent most of my time on in college did not make me happy, they just kept me busy, and that is why I feel they were a waste of time. We often have to try new things to know if we like them or not, but if you don’t like your job then start looking for a new one right away. Life is all about balance, because we have to work, but we also need to have fun. Unless you have a job that you really love and actually enjoy, don’t revolve your life around your job. Revolve your life around that church or volunteer group or instrument or whatever it is that you really love. Don’t forget about your job, don’t put any less effort into it, but go home and give just as much effort to that thing that you love.

I have people telling me life is too short to be unhappy, so I need to find my passions and jump on whatever path will get me there. I also have people telling me that I’m so young and I have the rest of my life ahead of me so I don’t need to rush into anything.

Whether you consider life to be long or short, use whatever phrases motivate you to get going. At the end of the day, I think it’s about the journey rather than the destination, so I’m going to stop looking at my life in terms of a career or a family. Where do I see myself in 5 years? I have no idea. I don’t want to know where I am in 5 years, because I don’t want to life for tomorrow, I want to live for today. Of course I will keep planning for things, and dreaming, but the main focus is going to be on doing, and doing today.


Empty Future?

Do you ever just feel inadequate?

I deleted my Facebook a few days ago to stop myself from comparing my life to others, and it’s been going well, I haven’t had any urges to get back on, I haven’t been missing it… but the whole comparing myself to other people thing has just come in other ways.

Now that I live with my parents again, I’m back to constantly comparing myself to my sisters and how much better they are at life.

I was watching Dance Moms tonight, thinking back to when I was a kid in dance class and thought I was going to be a professional dancer, but I quit in middle school because I wasn’t good. While watching Dance Moms I kept seeing commercial for Kid Genius and started thinking about that chef show with the little kids and I just sit here wondering how is it that there are enough tiny kids in the world that are ridiculously amazing at something at such a young age that we can have multiple shows about them?

That’s when I realized why I haven’t finished my book. I started writing it when I was 10, and as a 10 year old writing a book that was pretty damn cool, but as a 22 year old writing a book it’s somehow less significant.

People keep saying, “don’t rush into marriage, you have your whole life for that” so why do I feel so behind by not being married? I feel like if you’ve found the one you want to be with, you shouldn’t spend any more time not being together, but every time I fall in love it’s with someone I can’t be with.

I just sit here and I look around and take in where I am in life, and I know that I’m still young, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t wasted a lot of time. When I was little I was positive that I was going to be great. I was going to be famous – a singer, an actress, a writer – everybody was going to know my name. I know I’m not going to be great now. I won’t be an actress, or a singer. I might be a writer, if I ever finish my book, but I don’t know that I’ll get it published and if I do I don’t know that many people will ever read it. I just need to figure out a way to be okay with that.

If you’ve read John Green’s novel, The Fault in Our Stars, or seen the film, you’ll be familiar with the scene where Gus and Hazel get into an argument because he’s so upset that he’s not going to be great and well-known. Gus is great, to Hazel. She thinks he’s amazing, she loves him and he is her entire world, and it pains her to feel like that isn’t enough for him. In both the novel and the film, this is the scene that always makes me cry, because of how much I relate to it. I have people who love me and who think I’m wonderful and that really should be enough, but I still lie in bed every night thinking, I can sing, I can act, I can write, I can model, I can read music… but none of that matters because nobody knows. Nobody who matters, nobody who can help me do anything about it.

I guess it all goes back to my very first post, I need to remember that I’m doing fine and I’m where I’m supposed to be, but of course that is easier said than done.

It’s hard to look into the future and see nothing. Where will I be in 5 years? I have no idea. My mind can’t even invent anything, it’s like I either see myself exactly where I am now, or I disappear. It hurts because nobody seems to really get that or be able to help… but I guess that’s where faith is supposed to come in.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen… so I am supposed to have faith that there is more to my life than what I have today. That there’s more to me than working in a call center and living with my parents and wishing for this long distance relationship to be different from the last two.

I don’t know where I stand with God right now… I haven’t been to church in years, but I try to read the Bible every day. I try to pray, I’m just not sure how anymore. I’m not 100% sure what I believe. But I know I have to believe in something, because that’s the only way I can keep going, so I choose to believe that my future holds something better. Something positive. Something exciting. I can’t wait to see what it is.

What I Wish I’d Known About the Disney College Program

Thinking about applying to the DCP? Here are some helpful tips I wish I would have known:

*Note: my experience is specific to the Disneyland program in California working in attractions*

Pay. I knew a good number of participants before I applied, and they all told me the DCP is something you do for the experience rather than money because the pay is horrible. I accepted that and didn’t ask any further questions, so somehow I was under the impression that everyone in the program is paid the same rate and works the same number of hours. This is not true. Attractions is one of the lowest paid roles, and had I known I would have preferenced other roles higher when applying. Even if you love your job, it does get to you once you find out lots of participants are making more than you while you’re all paying the same rent.

Scheduling. You’re told you have to be fully available to be in the program, and that really isn’t true. The college program doesn’t make your schedule, the schedulers in your area do, and most people that work at Disneyland have a second job, so you can too if you want/need. People are always willing to trade shifts so take advantage of that. If you get sick, need a personal day, want to go visit family, etc. you can ask for days off or call out just like at any other job.

Scheduling at the Disneyland Resort is done by seniority, so the longer you’ve been working there the higher priority your preferences get. As college program, you get about 3 years seniority so you’re regularly scheduled enough hours to pay rent, but be aware this changes based on time of year. I did my program in the fall (August-January), and my first few weeks I was only given about 22 hours a week. After that it raised to 30, and once the holidays began I got 40.

Another thing to be prepared for is your post training schedule – this lasts for about 2 weeks after being signed off for your attraction when your schedule will just say “post training” and you have to call scheduling every single day to find out where/when you’ll be working. It’s incredibly stressful and incredibly annoying and I was constantly worried I wouldn’t get enough hours because sometimes only 4 hour shifts were available.

Living conditions. It is listed on the website that housing consists of studios, 1 bedroom, and 2 bedroom apartments, accommodating up to 5 participants (that’s 2 in a studio, 3 in a 1 bedroom, or 5 in a 2 bedroom). Originally I chose the 2 bedroom, logic being I would have more bedroom space, but I completely overlooked the  difficulty of sharing a fridge with 5 people vs. 3, so keep that in mind. I ended up with a hateful racist roommate so I got to move to a 1 bedroom halfway through the program, and I had way more space in the kitchen, living room, and bathroom, which was amazing.

There is no official roommate selection process like most colleges have, so it’s either completely random, or you can find people on the Facebook page and choose to live together. Caution: I found my roommates on the Facebook page and they seemed great until I actually lived with them…and when I moved my random roommates were a massive improvement. So that part is hit or miss.

The apartments come stocked with dishes and cookware, but everything is stained from calcium buildup in the dishwasher which makes it look gross and unclean. If you’re a neat freak like me, I definitely recommend getting your own dishes and hand washing everything.

You also get a washer/dryer, but the dryer takes about an hour and a half to actually dry anything, so I recommend doing laundry often and in tiny loads.

Participants. It’s called the “college” program for a reason. Almost every person I encountered in the program was extremely immature, especially a good number of the girls were catty and gossipy and it felt like high school. I made most of my friends outside of the college program at my attraction, and those are the amazing people I spent all of my time with who became my family.

The program is not well known within The Walt Disney Company. I applied to the college program because it got me to California, and I figured there would be some connections with ABC Television Group since it’s a division of Disney and I REALLY want to work there one day. It took a TON of networking and about 2 months, but I did finally get a couple meetings at ABC, and I spent half of each meeting explaining to them what the college program was and what I was doing there. The same thing happened when I went to the studios, and when I friend of mine went to ESPN. So when the college program staff tells you how great it looks on your resume…I don’t believe that. No matter how much you embellish it, you worked at an amusement park. I wouldn’t bother calling it an internship on your resume because I got called out for that in so many job interviews and once they prodded me further to explain the program they were like yeah that’s not an internship, and honestly I couldn’t disagree.

Find magic in your own way. This post was focused on the negatives solely because they are the major things that I could have better prepared for so they would not have impacted my program so much. I will say that just like college, the college program is what you make of it. I spent so much of my free time trying to network my way to the studios, that whenever I had a day off I was driving to Burbank and taking meetings instead of going to the DCP events, so I wasn’t really able to enjoy the program. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who has parents paying their rent and giving them a ton of money to go to concerts and Medieval Times and Universal, take advantage of your free park admission because 4.5 months does fly by. Definitely get to know the people in your work area as well as you can, espeically if you work during the holidays because that will be your holiday family!

Feel free to contact with any questions 🙂