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A Gloomy Day in Pittsburgh

Loss is a Part of Life, but It Still Hurts

“Men may rise on stepping stones of their dead selves to higher things”

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Some time has passed between finding out that I was not selected for a position in one of my favorite organizations and now.  I’ve had time to reflect over what I did right, where I went wrong, and what I can do going forward.  However, it has been difficult.  I feel a lot like Hillary Clinton right now, knowing that I was perhaps over qualified for the role, that I had put so much time and effort into something that I had real passion for, and only realizing that maybe I was never really wanted.  Hillary’s words could tell you exactly how I am feeling right now: “There have been a few times this week where all I wanted to do was curl up with a good book or the dogs and never leave the house again,” she said at the Newseum gala a few days after her disturbing loss.

I can completely identify with her sentiments and I feel more empathy for her now than I ever have.  For all intents and purposes, I am walking in her shoes; I fought hard for the position that I wanted, proposed change and growth that may not have been easy but would have been right, and I was cast aside for my efforts.  Just like Hillary, I was devastated that I could lose in a manner where the level of experience, passion, and insight was seemingly ignored in favor of some other less pronounced trait or ideal.  I had worked my entire college career to a point where I thought I had a shot at making a difference, in no way for myself but in every way for the organization I knew I could lead.  I was rejected, and in my opinion, I was rejected in the same grossly unfair terms as Hillary was.

So here I am, still recovering and still unsure of what I should be doing.  Everyone has been saying don’t give up, don’t give in, and keep moving forward in life.  Great advice, of course, but not something that’s so easy to do in the moment.  When your plans are ground to a halt, it can be easy to remain grounded, unsusceptible to the driving force that allows most people to continue living their lives.  Healing is necessary, and as usual I will eventually throw myself at other passions in my life in the pursuit of healing.  I’ll take walks, I’ll read, maybe dance a little, and I will continue to cultivate my unwavering commitment to the integration of hospitality and business.  The last one may take more time, but it shall be worth it in the end.

Finally, I am still reminded of Hillary in her strength and commitment to something she fought for: the democracy of the United States of America.  Even she is attending the inauguration today, a feat of strength only she could accomplish.  It inspires me to keep going myself, in the hope that I may one day be as strong, and to not give up on something that gave up on you.


Reflections, Soldiering On

Everyone loves to reflect on the past.  I am no different.  When New Year’s Eve rolls around, we all think about the past: the good and the bad, the failures and the successes, and then we look forward.  We look forward to a new year with the similar good and similar bad, with challenges and opportunities that are only different because they are fresh in our minds.  Personally, I am not such a fan of this process: treating each year individually, as if they are discreet events, and cataloguing what happens to try and see what “score” we would give that specific year.  Life is too fluid and long for such a premature rating and we don’t change radically overnight because humanity decided 365 days is enough time to fit in all one’s moments.

Many people are saying that 2016 was a bad year.  While I can’t disagree with them, I don’t like assigning blame to a single entity, like a scapegoat that answers to all of us.  Nor will I blame anyone else for my own shortcomings.  For me, 2016 was bad not just for the celebrities that died or the election that didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.  No, 2016 was awful because I was awful.  The year was a failure because I was a failure.  My “scorecard” represents a mountain of evidence that I didn’t live up to both my own expectations and those of people I care about.  I won’t spell out these failures (and yes there were successes, although few and far between) but trust me when I say they were there and they were real.  It was a bad year because I was bad, and no other entity deserves the blame, at least in the very personal sense.

I do not write any of this to seek sympathy or to find comfort anywhere.  I am writing this to hold myself accountable and for others to hold me accountable too.  I want to do better in the next year, not so that my scorecard for 2017 shows I was a “success” but so that I may do better in every subsequent year.  I want to look back on my whole life, without the blinders of ignorance to shield me, and know that I did the most amount of good, for the most amount of people, whenever I was able to.  I will be happy with nothing less and I should be held accountable for nothing less.

So I do not look forward to the year 2017 with any special consideration.  Instead, I look forward to the rest of my life, knowing I made changes to who I am to become the person I want to be.  Believing that my new philosophy (do the most amount of good, for the most amount of people, whenever I can) will not let me down.  Hoping to make amends, to heal, to learn, and to grow as a human being.  And finally, wishing that other people will hold me to these promises, just as I will always try to do for myself.


On a more organizational note, I apologize for not posting as much as I probably should have over the past few months.  If my tone in the previous paragraphs is any indication, I wasn’t in the best of spirits to be writing about fine dining and business pursuits.  I should have more time to write regularly in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

The Importance of a Work/Life Balance

This past week was our class’ spring break week, which for most people included gallivanting around Europe to exotic and historic destinations, maybe sipping some wine (or downing far worse), taking enough selfies and pictures of random buildings to fill 3 IPhones of storage, and of course contracting foreign diseases and bringing them back to London for me to sample, (thanks).  However, I wasn’t so “lucky” in my spring break plans, for I worked on Saturday of the week before last, in addition to Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at my internship.


Now before there are any judgements made, just know that I am in no way bitter about working over last week and that I actually enjoyed working over this time, since I was able to do some more unique tasks like supervising another intern and conducting site visits of other hotels and event spaces.  These are jobs I wouldn’t have had if I were to be found sitting on the beach in Spain or skiing in the Swiss Alps, and the point I’m trying to make is that I wanted to work because that is the balance I was looking for over my spring break.  I still had Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off to enjoy myself and relax from the hustle and bustle of the past 6 weeks, but I didn’t slow down so much that it would have been difficult to get back into the swing of things.  That’s the way a lot of people operate and it’s important to find the work/life balance that fits you.


The importance of a work/life balance cannot be understated and there are benefits and detriments of favoring one over the other.  The Mental Health Foundation of the United Kingdom estimates that 3 out of every 10 employees will encounter a mental health issue in any given year due to work-related stress.  At the same time, an article from the Harvard Business Review sets up a good debate between advocates of more “work” and advocates of more “life”, noting that not all employees are the same and some actually “feed off the urgency of the organization” more than others, leading to increased productivity and happiness for those individuals.


I don’t want to justify one lifestyle over any other because everyone is different, just as every job and every life lived is different, and prescribing one specific schedule that will work for everyone just isn’t possible.  At this stage in my life, I’m in the mindset that if I’m willing and able to work, and that I can gain something from the experience, then I will take that opportunity and dedicate that time to the job.  While that mindset doesn’t characterize all of my decisions concerning how I use my time (I do like to have fun on occasion), it’s more often than not the framework for how I can accomplish my goals.


But overall, I think I have the right work/life balance for a study abroad experience, especially if I include my education into the work side of the balance.  The important thing is for each and every one of us to determine what our own balance is, and fully commit ourselves to honoring that determination.


p.s. Just to prove that I did something else besides work last week, the featured picture is taken from the tour of Westminster Abbey I did just last Saturday.  It was astounding.


Check out these links for more information on work/life balance (used above in my blog):