I Found My Why Pt. 2

Hi blogging world!

If you’re reading this, you might know that dance marathon happened Friday and Saturday. And in dance marathon, we stand for 24 hours in support of the patients and families of UNC Children’s hospital. This marathon was particularly special. Why? Because we raised over $600,000. The most we’ve raised in a year to date. And this marathon was my last as a UNC student. Will I come back to help them on occasion in my old age? Probably. But there’s nothing quite as special as participating as a student.

Just like there’s nothing quite as special as the bonding you get to do as a committee during the marathon. I was lucky enough to be in the first generation of the technology committee, working to ensure all photo and video coverage was in place during this huge event and all other events leading up to it.

I had always felt like our committee was close. There were the occasional giggly outbursts during meetings or snide, sassy comments from me to Jacob, the technology chair. But it was really during the marathon that we came together as one moderately sized dysfunctional family. As we should.


Am I a little sad that I’ll never get to experience the gloriousness that was our committee dance again? Absolutely. The bonds that you make at this event are incredible. You’re in pain, your friends are in pain. All you can do is work as hard as you can to make their job easier while ensuring that you’re completing yours in the best way possible.


I’ll miss how close I grew with my committee and how much we bonded over our mutual pain and love for our cause. Of course I will. But my time’s up, and I’m also thankful for that. Bring in the new generation of tech. I’m ready.



Today, I woke up at 6:30 A.M. and I was exhausted. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in a week. I haven’t had 5 minutes to myself in a million years until today. Everything has been horrible and sometimes I think graduation can’t get here soon enough. However, when I woke up this morning, I was also thankful.

I am thankful that I am going to an amazing university that challenges me in the best way every single day.

I am thankful for Carolina Connection for allowing me to express my love and passion for radio news each Saturday at 8:30 A.M.

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I am thankful for those I surround myself with. Friends, family, boyfriend, roommate, mentors and teachers. They have supported me through countless trials and tribulations. They have offered words of encouragement, shoulders and shirts to shed tears on, and are my biggest cheerleaders. I would be lost without them.

I am thankful for an occasional lazy day like today that allows me to simultaneously nap on my couch, be semi-productive, catch up on any shows I’ve missed, and eat cheese puffs.

I am thankful for Carolina For The Kids. I am thankful for the ability to create videos that I love and share them with the organization I love (and those within it, whom I also love.) I am thankful for our Executive Board. They give me a lot of creative reign, and trust me to do what I think is best. I am thankful for wonderful committee members who help me in every way they can. And I am thankful for the huge event we put on every year. Seriously everyone in this organization inspires me every single day.


I am thankful for caffeine. I would be productive at all if it did not exist.

I am thankful for music. There’s always some song out there perfect for every emotion I have ever felt.

I am thankful for theatre for teaching me so much about who and what I am.

And finally, I am thankful for uncertainty. Earlier in my blog, I spoke about how afraid I am of gray areas. I still am. But every day that goes by that I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, I’m getting older. More mature. I’m growing into myself. And that’s okay. Through uncertainty comes confidence. And for that, also, I am thankful.




Get You a Broadcaster Who Can Do Both

Come on, you know you’ve seen these memes floating around.


It’s okay to laugh. They’re funny. Humor aside, I feel like this speaks to my experience in the broadcasting realm. We don’t talk about this particular industry a ton in Branding of Me, but the breakdown isn’t hard to understand. There are two facets: radio and TV. Most people are either one or the other. But in today’s day and age, it’s become increasingly important to brand yourself as this super duper multimedia journalist. A jack of all trades. A master of print, radio, TV and sometimes photojournalism.


And I learned that the hard way recently in a class I’m taking this semester: JOMC 421: TV Reporting and Producing. At first I thought, “Hey. I know how to use Adobe Premiere. I use it all the time to make videos for Carolina For The Kids. I’ll be fine.” Turns out, I couldn’t be more wrong.

As I’m sure you can guess, there are certain rules in every part of journalism. In print, you pretty much always end on a quote. In radio, never end on a sound bite from another person. Photography – mind your aperture. And in video, it’s sort of a weird mixture of all the rules. Look at your camera, make sure it’s focused on the right thing. But don’t be standing while your source or subject is sitting, leaving their eyes looking up at you, and giving a weird angle to the camera. RULE OF THIRDS IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. But be careful to always have the camera showing the darker side of the face. Diffused lighting is best. But also watch your audio levels, making sure to hit between -12 and -9. If that isn’t hard enough, then you have to write your story, but write it in a way so an editor can understand what’s happening, or supposed to be happening on the screen while you work with telling the story in your words. And then when that’s all done, you edit your package.

I don’t understand how people do it for a living. Just to create 1:30 of story. But trust me, if I didn’t have mad respect for TV broadcasting people before, I do now. I have even more respect for those rare gems who can do it all.

Will you ever catch me in the field during the 5:00 segment on your local CBS affiliate? Absolutely not.

I’ll stick closer to NPR-style newscasts. But believe me when I say working solely with audio files can be difficult too. But that’s for another time.

Moral of the story is: don’t judge it until you have to try it and it’s 50% of your final grade.

Want to see my foray into the unknown? Watch my first package below… if you dare.


*Shreds Bracket*

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m not the most well-versed person in anything sports related. But you’ll also know that I do happen to love college basketball. And you’ll know that I’m competitive. Like really competitive.

So, bracket challenges are my bread and butter. I love them. I live for them. I choose my teams carefully and with calculation, always including at least a few upsets. But I was not prepared for this. Was anyone prepared for this???

  • Michigan State. What happened??? They were ranked second. SECOND. And they lose to… who did they even lose to again? Middle Tennessee? Okay. 97.8 percent of people who made brackets through ESPN at least had Michigan State making it past the first round. Hell, 23% of people had Michigan State winning the whole damn thing, so… really… what happened other than lots of threes and a great defense?
  • Purdue. I don’t actually know a lot about Purdue, but I know more about it than I know about Little Rock… like the fact that it exists.
  • West Virginia. Now, I know they aren’t really a basketball school. They’re a football school. But who is SF Austin and how did they beat a third ranked school??? They’ve been ahead of them the whole game. Seriously, who is SF Austin and why am I just hearing about this as an institution?
  • Seton Hall... I don’t actually know this school either but I was rooting for them, okay?


Okay. My rant is over. Enjoy your night while I cry onto my poor, sweet bracket. Or what’s left of it.

Fun Trips and Artsy Times

Over last weekend, I took a trip to Newport News, VA. And while there, of course I had to go to Colonial Williamsburg since it was fewer than 3o minutes away. Take a look at a few of my VERY amateur photographs I took while there. Definitely not going to be hired to cover any weddings any time soon, but any chance I have to take some pictures and have some fun, I’ll accept.

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So I Guess I’m an Adult?

I have gathered you all here today to inform you that you are witness to a miracle.

I made a hotel reservation. By myself.

I picked the hotel based on Yelp and Google reviews. By myself.

And I checked in. By myself.

Okay so this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to you. But trust me, it’s huge. I’m a generally anxious person, and I pretty much get even more anxious whenever I even have to think about making important decisions alone. And a hotel doesn’t seem like that important of a decision.

But it is. It’s almost as if I’m proving to myself, Hey. Life is totally scary, and it’s not going to stop being scary, but you are going to be okay. I didn’t even know I knew to look for others’ reviews when selecting a hotel destination. I didn’t know that I knew to look up the distance the place is from everything I’m doing this weekend. But I did, and I figured it out. What’s that, you ask? WHY is this important?

What about future appointments? Dentist? Doctor? Calling to get things fixed on my car or house. Doing taxes. Making work decisions. These are within the same vein. Definitely different, but my point is, I’m going to get there. As far as I’m concerned, this is one small step for Stephanie, but eventually one huge step towards adulthood.

Next stop: budgeting?? Maybe?? *shudders*Maybe not. Baby steps.


I Found My “Why”

“Find your why.”

What an interesting quote. I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it, your parents and grandparents and friends have heard it. But what does that really mean? I’ve tried to make a point to be more mindful lately, and I have particularly wrestled with questions such as, who am I? What do I want at this exact moment? Why am I doing what I’m doing? 

But I’ve figured out the answer is simple. I joined a little organization as a dancer my sophomore year of college. Carolina For The Kids (formerly UNC Dance Marathon.) You may have heard of it before. Yeah, yeah, I hear your groans before I even post this, but let me have my moment and let me be cheesy about how standing for 24 hours actually means the world to me.

Part of the 2014-15 Publicity Committee

Carolina For The Kids is the largest student-run philanthropy in the state of North Carolina. Our purpose? Serving the families and patients of UNC Children’s Hospital. How? We do it all. We serve parents dinners at the hospital so they don’t have to leave their children. We go canvassing all over the triangle. We have events. We literally have 15 committees full of people doing these things all year. And then, we have a teeny little event called Dance Marathon in spring, in which we raise money and pledge to stand for 24 hours.

As I said, I joined CFTK my sophomore year as a dancer because my friend and now roommate encouraged me too. I was anxious. I had signed up my freshman year, but people encouraged me not to.

“It’s hard. You just stand there the whole time. You’re so sore afterwards.”

It was enough to scare me off that year. But the next year I gave in. I’m always up for trying new things, and who would I be to judge something before I tried it? And I was miserable. I made it to ~hour 17 and I hated myself. But I was going to finish this thing, damn it. And then it was time for our Kid Co-Captains (current/former patients from UNC Children’s) to have a talent show. I sobbed. And then it was time to hear the families speak about where the money we raised went. And I sobbed. Here I was, complaining about having cankles and this mom was thanking us with everything she had for supporting her family. And there it was, clear as day, my why.


Fast forward two years later, and now I’m the multimedia subchair under the technology committee. I’m in charge of coordinating photo and video coverage for our events, and basically, making sure we have content to use at the marathon and to publicize who we are and what we do. It’s not an easy job sometimes. Things fall through, people don’t answer emails, and editing video files is hard. But I get to see firsthand the difference we’re making. I get to help get the word out. I get to film our Kid Co-Captains and see how bright their spirits are. I’m helping. This is my why.


We all have that friend who always tells you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Sometimes just enough of the truth, but a lot of times, too much of the truth.

That’s me. I am that friend.

And I speak the truth. I don’t always want to, and I definitely don’t always mean to, but I’m horrible at hiding how I feel about something (ugh I know I double majored in drama I should be so much better at this) but I’m also never passive-aggressive, and I’ll tell you straight up if something is bothering me. Here are other reasons it’s sometimes good… and sometimes bad to be the #NoFilter friend.


The Good

  1. People come to me for advice. People want to know what I think about certain things and certain situations, because they know I’ll tell them exactly how I feel and I won’t sugarcoat it to spare any feelings.
  2. Like I said above, passive-aggressive isn’t my style. If I have a problem, even if it’s small, I’m not one to sit on my feelings until I blow up. I go to the forefront of the problem and try to talk it out right then and there. Most of the time, this means fewer huge fights with friends, and stronger relationships in the process.
  3. It has made me more confident. I remember being a pre-teen and always being self-conscious about having my own thoughts and my own opinions. I think, eventually I just lost that and decided to be my own person. I have opinions. Lots of them. Why should I have to hide them to be more “appealing?”
  4. My friends and family know that I really love them. I think that when people figure out how (sometimes) brutally honest I am, it means even more to these people when I tell them how much they mean to me. Just like everything else, they know I’m not just bs-ing them or telling them something I know they want to hear.

The Bad

  1. People assume I’m being funny. Don’t get me wrong, I am funny. I’m very funny and witty when I’m not on the spot. But when you are telling someone something they might not want to hear, they can sometimes assume it’s all a big joke. It isn’t.
  2. People ask me for advice. Yes, I already put this in the good list. But giving people advice, or being expected to give people advice, isn’t always a good thing. And some don’t want to hear what you really think, they want to hear what they want to hear.
  3. Some assume I have no feelings. “You’re so honest because you have a stone-cold heart, right?” Wut. That makes no sense. Having no filter isn’t about wanting to hurt other people. It’s about being in touch with your feelings and having a strong sense of self.

Don’t get this confused with being mean. While I tell people exactly what I think, I would never intentionally say something to hurt someone. I don’t walk around insulting people and criticizing who they are. I understand people have feelings. Remember? I have them too. Plenty of them.


At the end of the day, I’d rather be too open and completely transparent. I’d rather you be able to tell what I think about something, for real. 


How to Cope With Stress: Stephanie Edition

As I’m relatively sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m a nervous person. I’m also a double major with a minor at UNC. I worked two jobs until recently. I’m the multimedia subchair for Carolina For The Kids (a.k.a. photo and video coverage are my responsibility.) I’m a producer for Carolina Connection. And this semester, I’m in three production classes in the journalism school. If that weren’t enough to make me want to hibernate 5ever, I also started the job hunt this semester. I’m 100% positive I’m not the only one with this much going on, so let’s talk about stress.


I start feeling the *stress* when I have x + y + z due the next day, but I only have 24 hours to get about 72 hours of work done. I used to buckle and crack under this immense kind of pressure, and sometimes I still do. But here are some tips I’ve gathered over the years that have really helped me, and if you’re anything like me, they’ll probably help you too.

  1. Take a deep breath. It’s important to take a second and practice that sense of mindfulness we spoke about in Branding of Me. Take a few minutes to absorb your environment. Where are you? Who are you? What are you doing? Who is with you? This should help clear your head and put you in a better state to buckle down and conquer the mountain of work you have ahead of you.
  2. Make a list. I normally like to do this the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper, but pretty much any way you do it works. List out all the things to do in order of priority, what you need to finish first, what has the soonest due date. While you may think this will just stress you out more, being able to cross off something after you’ve done it helps you visualize the finish line! Therefore, it makes it a little easier to get the job done.
  3. Go for a jog. This was something I wasn’t so sure about at first. Mostly because I hate myself and my life while I’m exercising, but I love how I feel afterwards. But it really helped the first time a tried it. Jogging is a great way to clear your head, and if you aren’t much of an outside runner… running on the treadmill or elliptical works just as well.
  4. Eat healthier/cleaner. This was something that I was extra surprised about. I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed sometimes I just want to eat a whole pizza by myself. But, if you opt for a balanced meal with a protein, starch and vegetable instead, it helps you feel better so you can feel better. Once you feel better, you can work more successfully and be more productive.
  5. Take breaks. While studying or working for 15 hours straight may seem like it’s a productive use of your time before that big test, it just isn’t. Take a short break every hour to stop looking at that piece of paper or computer screen. Get some water. Go to the bathroom. Go for a walk. Your body will thank you.
  6. Know when to throw the towel in. Staying up forever is just going to make you a groggy, frazzled mess. At the end of the day, sleep is an important part of keeping that stress level down, and it plays an important part in keeping you healthy. Even if it isn’t as much sleep as you’re used to getting, you need something.

I can’t guarantee that if you do all these you’ll magically never anxious again, but these tips have helped me a lot! What do you do to cope with stress? Let me know in the comments section!


Food for Thought: Perfection

I really hate that word. Perfect. And yet, here I am in my last year of college striving to achieve that same stupid, impossible standard. The perfect roommate. The perfect best friend. The perfect worker. The perfect student. The perfect daughter. The perfect older sister. The perfect reporter.


It’s exhausting. And yet, I still find myself trying my best, killing myself from bending far enough backwards to make it happen.

“Nobody’s perfect.”

Well, of course nobody’s perfect. But that doesn’t make it any easier of a pill to swallow when you can’t do everything or please everyone. That’s probably how you know when you’re growing up, when you accept that you can’t do everything and you move on.

This blog post is less a forum for me to complain about my feelings and problems and more of an opportunity for encouragement to my fellow students, peers, colleagues and friends. You are enough. You can do that thing you’ve always wanted. You can have friends and still perform well in school. You might not have gotten your first choice of job, but you’ll get one. You will make it through this.

And in case no one ever tells you… I believe in you. As much as I believe in myself. And while I’m living and breathing proof that senior year is not as much of a cakewalk as everyone said it would be… and that it’s more of an abyss full of panic and uncertainty… it’s important to take a second to be mindful, and think about what it is about this unattainable quality that so many people seem to want so much.

  1. What is perfection, anyway?
  2. Where do your motivations stem from?
  3. Is this about being competitive or making someone else proud of you?
  4. What will make you happy and fulfilled right now?

For me, right now~ I don’t know what perfection is anymore. I’m starting to think of it more as an opportunity for personal fulfillment- a time in which every aspect of your life seems balanced and in place. Right now, I don’t feel that, but I also think this sense of perfection is entirely subjective. My motivations stem from my competitive nature and my drive to be the best I can be. It’s about making my friends, family and mentors proud of me… but it’s also about making me proud of myself. I’m starting to learn to be proud, and I’m learning to accept things about myself that I didn’t used to.

Is this perfect? No. Is that okay? It will be.