Quarter-Life Crisis Lessons


Years ago, there happened to be only one phase of life crisis – and it was midlife. Alas, with the stresses of student loans piling on interest rates, undeniably talented twenty-somethings sans and the ever terrifying possibility of moving home with parents, a new crisis has come to be a household phrase: the quarter-life crisis.

It’s happened. I knew it was coming and that there was no way I could even stop it. Even at the tender age of 21, commuting back and forth from the City of Brotherly Love to the Big Apple on my own dime for unpaid internships created an anxiety to be experienced by only those who have mortgages, trust funds and several mouths to feed. I had none of those; my only expenses were Greyhound tickets to NYC and back, the occasional meal when I could fit it in between my multiple part-time jobs, 18 credits and my internships, and of course, the absurdly high rent payments in Philadelphia. There was no reason to have the weight of the world on my shoulders, and yet, there it was.

The Hustle

Perhaps the elusive “quarter-life crisis” only strikes those with an innate and unutterable fear of failure. Everyone defines “failure” differently. For me, my definition of “failure” terrified me to the point of exhaustion. At a time when I should’ve been enjoying the last months of my collegiate experience, I was too busy working from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily, to ensure that I would never be put into a position of “failure.” When I moved to an entirely new city early last year, instead of going out to make friends and explore my new “home,” I stayed at the office until the sun went down. I knew only the walls of the office and the walls of my apartment complex. That wouldn’t make a great story, would it?

Perhaps it is both a blessing and a curse. If you are terrified of failure, work consumes your life. This could certainly put you among the top performers with the best numbers and greatest experiences but are those numbers enough when you ignore friendships, family and all that which made you what you are? It may be that I’m getting older, smarter or a combination of the two, but I’m starting to believe that it is not enough.

I haven’t stopped working in six years. I’ve gone anywhere and everywhere to better my career and gain the best experience that I could. Along the way, however, I’ve lost the best friendships I’ve ever had. I have stopped talking to friends just because I wasn’t able to find the time. And this – all of this – is what creates the quarter-life crisis. The realization that everything you have been tirelessly working for doesn’t matter when you don’t have anyone to enjoy it with you. Your successes mean nothing when the only person you can count on is yourself (and your parents, if you’re lucky).

As I’m embarking on a new chapter of my life, wherever that may take me, I am entering into it knowing two things. First, I will never lose my innate fear of failure. It makes me who I am and drives me to be the best marketing professional I can possibly be. Second? When someone comes into my life, realizes that my career is of utmost importance and still wants to stay, I will do everything in my power to keep them in my life. As for this quarter-life crisis; it’s old news, as far as I’m concerned. Hit me with your best shot.

To have undeniable success is one thing; to be surrounded by true friendship is another. There is a way to have both and I will have it all. Mark my words.

The Art of Sibling Rivalry


My younger brother and I were born two years and seven months apart. That is a weird gap — it isn’t short enough for us to be best friends and it isn’t long enough for us to be “strangers.” Growing up, it seemed like we’d certainly head down similar paths. School was always first, followed closely by music. Of course we diverged slightly when I was interested in acting — he wouldn’t be caught dead on a stage in a (gasp) costume! But in general, we had similar life goals.

I went to Temple University (as I’m sure you’ve heard me proudly proclaim several times). My brother followed me to Temple during my senior year. He joined a fraternity — at my request — and started to make friends. All seemed dandy.

However, going into his junior year, I noticed that him and I weren’t as similar as I had thought. My senior year, I had taken 18 credits both semesters, had two internships and worked four part-time jobs. He was content taking 12 credits, playing guitar and occasionally hitting the library to chill with his bros. It became clear that school was no longer his forte and his heart wasn’t in it.

He approached me one day and dropped a bomb — “Cris, I’m going to join the Army.” Umm — excuse me? He spent the last three years in college and was now ready to throw it away? But as he and I argued our points, he started to convince me — why continue with something that he wasn’t passionate about? I helped him tell our parents and had him meet with my friend who is a recruiter.

The point of this post was to remind myself that you must ALWAYS follow your heart. You cannot excel at something for which you have no passion. Never thought he’d teach me anything (no offense, Tim) but he did without realizing it.

McFail or McGenius? Or McGrath? No, just kidding.


As public relations practitioners, we are in a creative and very network-oriented field; PR pros inform the media, brainstorm with the best of them and frequently dabble in the eloquent art of schmoozing. We must be confident in our capabilities, our relationships and our clients.

I’ve always been enthralled with public relations if just for the fact that we have no true control over our messages once they reach our audiences. We raise awareness, deliver larger-than-life campaigns and develop priceless relationships – but once our product, service or brand is recognizable, we have limited control over the opinions of others.

Rick Wion, social media director of McDonald’s, recently found himself in the middle of a consumer-generated PR debacle when he developed a social media strategy allowing fans to share positive experiences using the hashtag, #McDStories. As I stated earlier, however, PR practitioners have limited control over the opinions of consumers and unfortunately for Mr. Wion, #McDStories was met with quite a bit of the snarky wit for which Twitter has become infamous.

While McDonald’s diehard fans were sharing positive experiences, the brand’s critics delved into the hashtag too. Sharing stories of unknown ingredients, violent nausea and borderline unbelievable horrors, the campaign was instantly hijacked. The story went viral and after just one hour, Wion redirected his campaign.

As the dust was settling, Wion took to his personal handle to diffuse the situation and save face.

Negative feedback should be expected in every social media campaign. So I ask the following question: Is 2% of the total consumer response enough to consider the entire campaign a failure?

xxCandyLips2011xx Isn’t Acceptable Anymore


Twitter is known for the casual messages and fast paced updates, but this doesn’t mean you should throw discretion to the wind. While colleges are preparing to welcome back crazy, rambunctious and oh so studious groups of 20-somethings, I was busy developing a few unconventional words of social media wisdom that may have been missed at that 8:00 a.m. lecture last semester.

  1. Private Twitters = Shifty Eyes: Twitter is an undeniably fabulous asset for public relations students (Hell, I even had a few job interviews because of my Twitter presence) and when you hide your twitter feed, it looks like you’re hiding something bigger. When you limit your profile, you also limit your opportunities and connections. If you feel the need to privatize your twitter feed, create two accounts – one public and one private – to ensure you aren’t missing any great networking opportunities.
  2. Bios Are A First Impression: Your Twitter bio may be the first thing that potential employers view and when you proudly announce that you are a member of #TeamDropout or #TeamAlwaysHigh, things probably won’t work out in your favor. Try adding your Alma Mater, your course of study, a graduation year and a few of your personal interests. Avoid offensive language, politically incorrect slurs and try your best to shy away from using words like “expert” or “guru.” And finally, unless you truly are Nicki Minaj, please do not refer to yourself as “Barbie” — working at your local fast food establishment doesn’t mean you have the right to refer to yourself as an enviable starlet.
  3. Would Dad Be Shocked: Does the thought of your father reading your Twitter feed make you shudder? If you answered yes, then we have a problem. When you’re tweeting anything that you wouldn’t want your parents to see, odds are potential employers will be just as offended as dear old dad.  If you are serious about finding a job, think of Twitter as one big job interview with thousands of agencies and firms – you never know who is reading your feed and for what reason. Make sure that you are tweeting relevant industry articles, participating in tweet chats and accurately spotlighting your personality. Stay away from the play-by-play of last night’s frat party, at all costs. And to be honest, no one wants to know what happens behind closed doors.
  4. Don’t Be Shy — @ Reply: A Twitter feed that contains only self-generated ramblings with no follower interaction is defying the nature of the network. Grow your followers, meet new people and watch as the opportunities present themselves. Generate content that will welcome replies and retweets – you’ll be amazed as new industry contacts pop up.
  5. The Power of a Handle: Do not, for the love of all things holy, make your Twitter handle anything other than your name or a variation of it. Things like xoKittyKat690x…unacceptable. First, ew. Second, Myspace much? Third, you are 20 years old — act like it.  If a potential employer is trying to find you, do you honestly believe that “fastNhard09” will come up in a search? Of course not. So Sasha Fierce, if you seriously cannot pull yourself away from your secret identity, use your private profile for certain handles and your public profile for professional handles.

I wholeheartedly believe in the power of social networking and, with some discretion, social media is capable of changing lives and career paths. If you follow these four simple guidelines, your trip into the PR industry could be smooth sailing – it definitely worked for me.

If I forgot anything, please feel free to add it!

Back to the Nest


I have always been proud of my independence and ambition. I never thought for one minute that I’d ever consider moving home. Senior year of high school was the last time I lived with my parents for more than a few days at a time – recently, however, I’ve made a guest appearance.

There is a nasty stigma surrounding the notion of grown children living with parents, or at least there used to be.  After college, it seemed most of my friends flew right back to that comfy, cheap nest when the job field didn’t extend an offer with the exact firm in the exact field with the exact salary that they wanted.  I, on the other less frugal hand, took an internship that didn’t pay me nearly enough to afford my studio apartment in West Philadelphia (or life, in general).  I was technically living under the poverty line, but I saw stars -both literally and figuratively- during my stint with the Philadelphia Eagles and the brand recognition was too impressive to pass up.

After the honeymoon phase wore off, I realized that student loans were steadily pouring in and I was making less than a cashier at Burger King. Something didn’t add up. I started the stressful and totally disheartening task of finding a new job. Finally, as if the stars had aligned perfectly, a contact I had met through Twitter had an opening with an agency – bada bing, bada boom – new job.

Unfortunately, after three unpaid internships throughout college and countless loans, the damage was done. Even with my new salary and benefits, there wasn’t a way for me to save and continue with my lifestyle, which was already less than extravagant.  Calling my parents for help was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. As I said, my independence has long been what drove my ambition. Fortunately, they both recognized my struggle with poverty-ridden pride and offered for me to move home temporarily – I added “temporarily.”

I have given myself a hard deadline of June 1, 2012. I will have a little nest egg saved and I will be back on my own. Giving myself a timeline is the only way I can mentally prepare myself for my independence being taken from me. I wanted to do it all on my own, but as GenYers, we need to realize when a battle is lost. With the economy in distress, our debt, the country’s debt, our parents’ debt – all forces are pushing back on us.

My advice is not to become discouraged if you must move home for a few months. Of course, the hardest thing for me is taking my own advice.

Weiners, Boehners and Johnsons — OH MY!


Hey — hey you! Yeah, you — in your tighty-whiteys holding your Blackberry, about to snag a pic of your Great Googly Moogly. Don’t do it! For the love of all things holy, please do not take a photo of your man parts.

I’m not too sure what is in the water nowadays, but it seems that every man has gone coo coo for Coco Puffs. Penises, to be frank (no pun intended) are not attractive parts of the human body. I know you men have been fascinated with “it” for as long as you can remember — heck, it was even cooler than a new box of LEGOs — but if we haven’t uttered a single vow to you, we don’t want to see what you’re packing. Period.

And for Pete’s sake, if you do insist on taking a picture and sending it to a woman half your age, do NOT deny. We will find out, you will be embarrassed, your wife will kick you in the face, and you’ll cry on national television. It is painful for everyone involved.

Finally — if your name carries a funny meaning, then you are at an exceptionally high risk. All of you Weiners, Boehners, Woodcoxes, and Dicks, PLEASE refrain from snapping a pic. It will only make me want to spoon my eyes out.

Thanks in advance.

The Generation of Debt


I'm a Hustler, Homie

Those who have followed my posts from the beginning have seen quite the roller coaster ride of emotion — from sheer excitement after my college graduation to terrifying depression when I didn’t secure a job immediately — since May of 2010, my life has been anything but stable.

In just under one year, I interviewed for my “Dream Job,” landed my “Dream Job,” grew to strongly dislike my “Dream Job,” interviewed with and got hired by a great agency, quit my “Dream Job,” and found myself in $50,000 of debt from student loans. How did everything spiral out of control so quickly? Commuting to NYC two times a week for eight months during my senior year  and managing 4 part time positions to fund that commute certainly added stress to the situation (you can read more about my opinions on unpaid internships here), but without that experience, would I be where I am now? And by that, I mean living paycheck to paycheck.

According to everyone and their mothers, I am one of the “lucky ones” who landed a full-time gig doing what I went to school for — but what makes me lucky? Most of my graduating class, so I’ve heard, have been living with parents, thereby avoiding rent, utilities, and groceries. That is quite a hefty portion of an entry-level salary — more than 50% by my calculations (and I live in a studio). So am I being “rewarded” for my hard work and dedication by living in pseudo-poverty? Something isn’t right here. Student loans are devouring my soul, Philadelphia rent and taxes are robbing me — how am I supposed to be surviving when 90% of my paycheck is gone before I even get it? Everyone tells me I am overreacting and that this is normal, but how am I the only one who is literally losing sleep over this?

Someone please enlighten me.

Has Hov Inspired You Recently? Didn’t Think So.


His name is Hov. H to the O, V – and I bet you would never believe that a lyric of his has become my personal pep talk and professional slogan. Yes, Jigga – the man, the myth, the legend – has successfully crafted a sentence which is coherent and clever enough that it has altered the way I plan to approach the future of my career.

For those of you who know me (and for those who don’t), I make it brutality obvious that I will do everything in my power to fight the stereotypical duties of a woman – marrying rich, counting down the days to the birth of one’s child, delivering several more children, and having a “career” which is flexible enough so one can leave work in enough time to take little Johnny-Jo to soccer. I last thought this sort of life was appealing when I played with dolls — I made Ken drive the pink convertible to work while Barbie and Kelly stayed home to cook. I loved babies and a fun Friday night was sitting for my neighbors. Things quickly changed.

I cannot tell you when this changed happened or what caused the transformation, but I can tell you one thing – “I’m different. I can’t base what I’m going to be off of what everybody isn’t.” While it is society’s norm for women to have an innate urgency to marry and reproduce at a surprising rate, I think I’ll focus on my career – instead of driving three kids to ballet and Boy Scouts, I’ll enjoy a casual glass of wine while watching reruns of Desperate Housewives to unwind after a fast-paced and game changing day. While most of my acquaintances from high school are engaged, married or onto their second child (not necessarily in that order), I am wonderfully content with my life and where it is going.

For the majority of my life, trying to “fit in” was the bane of my existence. Now, at the tender age of 22, the last thing I want to do is conform. Hova, your poetic words have moved me so, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I will be what everybody isn’t.

I'm So Ambitious.

Top 3 Follies of Full-Time Life


I’m sorry I haven’t updated my blog since July (bad PR, for sure), but I have been trying to adjust to having a full-time job which is no easy feat.

By the time I get home, my brain is fried from countless press releases, media alerts and articles — just thinking about trying to formulate a thought gives me a headache. (Un)fortunately, I went out to dinner last night, something did not agree with me. I had to call off sick to ensure there is no christening of the office bathroom which would have been unpleasant for all parties involved.

So without further adieu, I present “Cristin’s Top 3 Full-Time Follies.”

  1. Not Eating Breakfast: Ah yes, the lesson your mother has been trying to teach you for years — always eat breakfast. Seeing as I was never a breakfast kind of gal growing up, I thought I’d be fine running on E until lunch. WRONG. Around 8:45am, my eyes start drooping; at 10:00am, sounds that mimic a rabid beast emerge from stomach; and by lunchtime, I am so hungry that my mouth turns into a black hole. Do not let this happen to you. I have learned my lesson and make time for a small breakfast every day.
  2. Hating Coffee: I hated coffee. Unless it was packed with caramel, lard and sugar, I wouldn’t go near a cup o’ Joe. After just one month of work, I probably feel the same love for coffee that I will feel for my first born. Luckily, a one-cup coffee machine is at my fingertips and I enjoy a delicious cup of French Vanilla coffee with organic half and half every morning and afternoon. It is clockwork.
  3. Forgoing a Cocktail: For four years, I had friends everywhere I turned. We could go to lunch, hang out between classes or grab a drink after class. Now, I moved off of campus into West Philadelphia. I have zero friends in this “part of town” and I get so lonely! I am a social butterfly — I need social interaction! For the first few weeks at work, I’d turn down a drink or dinner after work because I was sleepy. I have now learned to say yes to any offer than comes my way. I need a chance to unwind, relax and talk about things unrelated to the old pigskin.

Hopefully, by my two month anniversary, I will have this full-time gig down to a science. I’ll be able to juggle a social life and work. Maybe. Fingers crossed.

Something Better is Coming? But This is the Best.


What are my “favorite” inspirational words that have verbally assaulted me nearly everyday since graduation?

“Don’t worry. If you don’t get this position, something better is coming.”

Now, I thoroughly appreciate these kind Hallmark-inspired words, but the definition of ‘better’ is different for everyone. What happens if the position that I am fighting for is, in my mind, the best? How can anything possibly one-up a…dream job?

Today, I had my second round of interviews for the internship with the Philadelphia Eagles. I had been obsessing over this position since my first round of interviews in April (as I have mentioned in prior posts). In the 24 hours leading up to my 11am interviews, I heard those twelve little words from acquaintances, friends, family, and supervisors. I cannot take it anymore; I love the support and confidence, but a few too many pats on the back makes me wonder if everyone is preparing me for the “Thanks but no thanks” phone call.

I am a very superstitious person, and hearing “…but something better is coming” fills my usually cheery mind with scariness, spiders and sadness. As Buddha once said, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” I see myself working in that office, loving my job and feeling blessed to have been given the opportunity to prove myself in the PR/Community Relations world of sports entertainment.

You know the saying, “Seeing is believing.” Well how about “Believing is becoming.”

I live by this phrase. Try and fill me with doubt, but I see myself getting this position and that is half of the battle.