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  • Listlessness and Other Mortal Sins

    Good morning! Good evening! Good afternoon! Good whenever-you're-reading-this! The last time we spoke, we were coming out of the haze of the Major World Event That Shall Not Be Named. It was a weird time to be sure; one full of strange hobbies and hyper-fixations, none of which shall be mentioned by name either. Since then, I graduated from college with an actual big girl degree and have found myself, once again, in the midst of a Weird Time. It's the in-between time. I deem this the "Time Between Times". You see, dear void, I (along with many other recent college graduates) am embarcing on a fantastical journey. A journey filled with possibility and adventure and promise.... and strife and grief and resentment; a journey where one must face both conquest and defeat. Yes, you've guessed it. I'm talkin' about the ever-present, all-consuming Job Market. [Insert dramatic sound effect here]. For those of you who don't know what it is like to be a recent college graduate seeking a job, I'll tell you. It's grim. So grim, in fact, that many have lost hope for any sort of employment. They've resigned themselves to the limbo of listlessness. They sit at home in agitation, with fiddling hands and shaking legs, riddled with the anxiety of the unknown. Their inboxes are crowded with job recommendations from LinkedIn, Indeed, and the like; serving as a constant dreary reminder of their unemployed status. They battle parental figures breathing down their necks, like a foreboding manifestations of all of their fears. "Yes, mom/dad, I've been applying to jobs." "No, I haven't received an offer yet." "I don't know what to tell you. I've edited my resume 4 times in the past four weeks." "Well, I might as well work at a gas station if nobody's going to hire me." "No, that was a joke... I'm not going to work at a gas station when I have a college degree." Envy runs rampant during this time period, turning even the most happy-go-lucky of individuals green in the face as they hear of friends and acquaintances accepting job offers and opportunities. "Why haven't I heard anything back?" they might ask themselves. They might even scoff as their once-slacker peers rattle off their new job descriptions. And as they perform interview after interview, wearing whatever business attire they can scrounge out of their post-college closet, their determination begins to dwindle. Insecurity sets in. They look back at the last four years and wonder if they made the right choices with their major, their part-time jobs, and even their universities. They might even look back and kick themselves for not studying harder for the SAT. It is a rather dramatic time for us new alumni. So, what hope is there? If you asked me this question just yesterday (mid-crisis), I would tell you that there is little to none. However, when I'm not in my moments of weakness, I consider myself to be a positive person with a positive mindset. I believe that when you open yourself to the possibilities, then opportunity will follow. "Stay the course," I tell you and myself, simultaneously. If not today, then tomorrow, next week, or next month you will find what you are looking for.(Ironically, just after I started writing this post, with all intent to complain to you about my lack of prospects, I received a job offer to my top choice. So, after all this ranting and raving, not all hope is lost.) In all honesty I must admit to you that I, too, had lost hope, having applied to an average 4 jobs a day over the past month and a half. I, too, heard nothing back for weeks and weeks on end. I, too, had multiple panic attacks about my future. And I, too, have no idea what I am doing. As the title of this blog says: I am not in my element. With that being said, I am an educator by nature. "Unsolicited Advice" is my name and "Anybody Who Listens" is my game. Therefore, dear void, I shall give you all I have learned this past month about how to avoid the mortal sin of Listlessness during the Time Between Times. Let's get right into it. Tip 1: Avoid thinking about it too hard. Overthinking is a symptom of the modern world. And while I believe it is important to be intentional about your job search, I do not believe that overanalyzing each job you apply for is conducive for a successful job hunt. Freaking yourself out about each potential job will not help you land said potential job. Take a breath and click "Apply". Tip 2: Cast a wide net Maybe you aren't qualified for a certain role. Or, maybe you don't know if you want to be a Content Writer or a Technical Editor. Who cares? Apply anyways. You never know what might open up for you if you do. And even if these roles don't work out, you'll know a little more about what you want and what you don't want. (I had this moment only a few hours ago, so you know I'm profoundly wisened on this topic.) Tip 3: Preoccupy yourself with other things Personally, I am not good at having nothing to do. It stresses me out more than having too much to do and leaves me pacing my house looking for something, anything, to make me to feel productive. Boredom is not good for mental health. Read that book you've been putting off reading. Test that recipe you told yourself you'd try out. Go on that hike that you've had saved on your TikTok likes for months. At the end of the day you can say to yourself "I applied to 3 jobs AND I finally wrote a post on my blog that I accidentally spent $200 on just to keep the URL even though I haven't updated it in over a year." Just me? Okay. Moving on.... Tip 4: Don't be afraid to ask for advice Pride, after all, is a mortal sin. Don't let it get in the way of learning something useful. It is true that your parental figure might not been on the job market since Clinton was in office. But between the slightly unhelpful, the stressful, and the dated advice, they might be a crumb or two of wisdom to offer. I, myself, have since endured hours of semi-lectures via phone call from my parental figures, many of which ended in tense "goodbyes", some even in tears (not my own, obviously). If you don't wish to brave the Battle of Hard Conversations with Parents, you can also ask your friends for advice and guidance because they're either going through the same thing as you or have just gone through it. Finally, Tip 5, and the cheesiest of all: Be yourself and trust your gut Stay true to your goals even in the face of hopelessness and continue to aim high. The world is so filled with people who regret following the money over following their passions. It is my greatest fear to be one of those people and I pray that you, dear void, do not become one of those people as well. If you don't yet know what your passion is, follow what sparks your interest and see where it leads you. You may just find that you do, in fact, love the world of commercial real estate, or sales, or pharmaceutical research. You are not your job; it is simply something you do, not your whole identity. Finally, dear void, know this: that while you don't exactly know where you are going, you are on your way. Good luck!

  • Here Lies My Sanity and Other Confessions

    I have a confession to make and it's so embarrassing. I have recently picked up a new obsession. OH how the mighty have fallen! Grieve the loss of my intelligence and literacy please because they're both long dead and buried, flowers withered and dried, epitaph long since been carved into a marble headstone: Here Lies Isabella's Intelligence and Sanity 2000-2021 "It was good while it lasted" My confession, you ask? Well, dear reader, I have found my self ardently and neurotically consumed by romance novels. The worst part is that they aren't even published, edited, and critically acclaimed books. No, no, no. They are the worst kind of book. The Amateur. The Unpublished. The Cliche. Gross. Not only that, but they're really bad. Like, really really bad. The kind of books that make eyes bleed, brains shrivel, and stomachs clench with disgust. I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassing. So naturally, I had to confess my sins to you all. I don't know how this happened, or where this obsession came from. But like all obsessions that grip me, it was thrust upon me like an unplanned pregnancy and I had no choice to ride the wave and see where the journey took me. So here I am. Expectations for romance: significantly higher. Contentment in my life as a single woman: slowly waning. Sanity: went on a trip to Mexico and never returned. There I was, claiming to be a future writer, hungry to consume the written word, and desperate to escape my existence, when I stumbled upon an app on the App Store claiming to have tons of free books. I thought to myself, "Wow! Free books!" because like all twenty-somethings, I live by the motto of "if it's free, it's for me". Innocent little Isabella, I had no idea the abyss I was about to dig myself into. The app, which I fail to mention to my many friends and loved ones is called Wattpad. I cringe just typing the name for shame and fear of damnation. The app burns a hole in my phone, hidden away from my Home Screen, tucked in the App Library that nobody ever looks at. It beckons me to read and revel in countless imaginings of lonely women. I'm ashamed and I might as well wear a scarlet letter A on my chest. If you don't know, Wattpad is a social media website that allows writers to publish their writing to be read for free. It has upwards of 90 million users. Sounds intriguing enough. I wanted to read more amateur writing and see what other people like me were doing. I assumed I'd be reading short stories, creative pieces, and poetry (all of which is included on said website). How wrong I was. How naive of me to think that I'd be expanding my mind and my creativity. The MAJORITY of what's published on this hellhole of an app are trashy, horribly written, and cringe-worthy romance novels that follow the same exact plot with different characters, settings, and background stories. What's WORSE is the abundance of... of.... f-f-f-fanfiction. (Pause for dramatic shuttering). The kind of writing that I avoid like the plague. It makes my lip curl just thinking about f-f-fanfiction. Harry Potter. Harry Styles. Marvel. Game of Thrones. You name it? Somebody's twisted mind has revamped, reworked, and rewritten it. It makes me sick. Fanfiction is like eating a wonderful meal at a restaurant, taking the leftovers home in a to-go container, and adding copious amounts of celery salt (the worst of all flavored salts) and then proceeding to gorge yourself like a bulimic on a binge. The end result is that it's never good, it's always worse than the original, and it leaves you feeling disgusting and bloated. I, on the other hand, have taste. I love good food. And I love to go to a nice restaurant and eat food prepared by talented chefs who are masters at their work. I also have recently acquired a taste for food prepared by people who spout things like, "I didn't study at to Le Cordon Bleu, but I did look up this recipe for hollandaise online and I think it's pretty good" or "My friends say that I can make butter cake better than Mastro's". The truth is, it's never as good as the Masters, but it satisfies the appetite. The same goes for my reading appetites. Sometimes I don't want a five course, masterfully prepared, and thoughtfully plated meal. Sometimes I want a burger and fries that have been slapped on a paper plate and that's okay too. I am picky about what I choose to read because like anything, there is an abundance of writing that is cliche and unsatisfactory. The hidden gems that I dig up after hours of searching, the ones that I fall into and forget the world around me, those make all of this worth it. To me, these stories aren't just some trashy imaginings of a novice writer's mind. They are poetic and beautiful. They are rich and filled with the inspiration of life. They are about overcoming adversity to find love and finding peace in chaos. They are about people living their lives, desperate to find happiness despite their past or the misery of their present. Most of all, these stories are about people throwing caution into the wind and finding themselves along the way. Sometimes you find yourself seeking comfort in the fictional because the world around you is too real and too harsh. It takes a good fiction story to remind you of the beauty of life. That one person can achieve their own happy endings, no matter if there's a sad beginning, or an angsty middle. Happy endings are not necessarily the "end" either. They are the start of a new season a rebirth of who we truly are unburdened by the brutality of our world. I hope to find my happy ending someday soon, when all of this nonsense is over. That I can place my book aside and see that my life is just as good as these stories albeit less dramatic and sappy, but a happy Disney fairytale ending nonetheless. (if you want recommendations let me know)

  • The 5 Month Check-In

    Hello everybody! How are you all doing? Good, I hope. As good as anyone can be I guess. Me? Well, I have a confession to make: I'm sick of this shit. Absolutely, positively sick of it. What started out as a one-two month endeavor has turned into an all-encompassing lump of shit that has taken over my entire life. COVID-19 is like a helicopter parent looming over me and controlling all of my actions. And I can't even sneak out to be rebellious without the gut-wrenching guilt I'd feel. Alas, like the rest of the world, I am stuck inside. Not only that, I am still in my childhood house. A few weeks ago, I went back up to my beloved San Francisco and packed up my entire adult life into a series of boxes, wept for the death of my independence, and drove back to Los Angeles. Now the relics of my past (6 months past) sit in the attic, where they will collect dust (much like my hope for this to ever end). I am fed up. Over it. Donezo. Ready to MOVE ON. I'd like to cite David Bowie's 1983 hit "Changes". Listen to the lyrics very carefully and you may find that they have a new sort of relevance to our current times Wow. What a good song right? I think it is safe to say that we are in a strange time, full of changes. Our very way of life has completely shifted, and while most of us have adjusted and "turned to face the strange", it is still shocking when we think about just how much has changed in the past few months. Not only has the world been facing this massive shift, but we as individuals have seen dramatic changes in our lifestyles, future plans, and attitudes. I am no preacher, nor am I an expert at coping with these changes, however, I am going through them with you. Know that I feel for you. I watch the ripples change their size But never leave the stream of warm impermanence and So the days float through my eyes But still the days seem the same Permanence is a thing of the past to me now. Everything that I expected out of this year has gone completely out the window. I am currently at home and will be living at home like a big adult child until next January. One year of college out the window and all because of a microbe that decided to fuck us all up. Can I say this? FUCK a BITCH named CORONA. I raise my glass to all those canceled 2020 travel plans, to the weddings that had to be rescheduled, to the first-years who will be stuck at home for much longer than expected, to the extroverts who are relearning what social interaction feels like, and to the memories we might have made had corona not come knocking on our doorstep. Maybe there are some well-adjusted introverts out there right now who are enjoying this alone time, who actually feel energized by the lack of social interaction. But there is also a great portion of people, like me, who are simply drained by it. I've said in a previous post that I like to ramble and talk all day long. I enjoy social interaction and meeting new people. I enjoy a good night out and a nice dinner. I even miss movie theaters. Simple things like shaking hands and hugging people when you first meet them. I mourn their loss and wonder when and if they will ever come back. I don't know about you, but I think I've gone slightly insane. Not the looney-bin kind of insane, but the kind of crazy that sits just below Well Adjusted Person. I can't quite put my finger on it and the only way I can describe it is the feeling of forgetting a word mid-sentence. I pace my room back and forth and back and forth. I scroll through my phone on and on and on. I fold my laundry, trying to find that missing sock. It's on the tip of my tongue and I don't know what it is. I feel like I've lost something but I don't know what I lost. Oh yeah, maybe my motherfucking entire life. Time is weird right now as well. It's already July, when I'm still processing April. Pretty soon it'll be 2021. Oh god, I feel old. I turned 20 last month. And while I always consider myself to be a teenage-grandmother, I now must reshape that identity to be a middle-aged 20-year-old. There's added responsibility for me to be doing something with my life. Figuring it out. But how am I supposed to "figure it out" when I can't go out and BE twenty. Maybe my job right now is not to figure out my path in this world but my place in it. We all can reflect on our roles in history. Lin-Manuel Miranda said it best when he wrote "History has its eyes on you". I, along with many other people feel this sentiment. History does in fact have its eyes on us. What will we do with this responsibility? Will we be idle and let time pass us by? No, I don't see us doing that at all. And these children that you spit on As they try to change their worlds Are immune to your consultations They're quite aware of what they're going through There are people out there right now trying to change the world for the better. With all this extra time we have, people have been taking the reins into their own hands. Molding their own future. Hoping that we can all come out of this to a better world. It's a noble cause. There is honor in the selfless sacrifice of time and energy to making the world a better place. I only have two things to comment on the current political climate. To our current youth revolution: We will be fruitless if we do not first look inward into our own souls and change our perspectives to show LOVE to one another. To the older generations: Trust that you have raised good, smart, kind people and allow them to join you in the pursuit of happiness without judgement or condemnation. Time may change me But I can't trace time I find that this is the most profound lyric from the entire song. As our world changes as time goes on, we are unable to trace the path that time takes us. Now, I'm not the most intelligent person on the planet. I don't have a degree in philosophy, nor am I the most well-read individual. This is not a false sense of "deepness", but an acknowledgment that we must accept changes as they come. I may not be doing the best job, I am only human. But at the end of the day, we are all moving along through time together. The changes that are happening in this pivotal moment in history will ripple through the ages. This doesn't just have to be a political movement. It can be the spark that lights up all areas of our lives. From intellectualism to art, culture, fashion, and popular media. The Revolution of the Millenia: where we look at our world from a new perspective and cultivate it, rather than destroying it.

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  • About | Not In My Element

    Welcome to my brain. Everyone feels like they are "out of their element" at one point or another. I seem to feel that way a lot of the time. To cope with this, I started to write all my feelings down in my journal. I soon realized that other people might relate to me as well. Thus, "Not in My Element" was born. Here's a little bit about me: I live in San Francisco and am getting my masters in English Composition at SFSU, or as Bay Area residents refer to as "State". If you would like to read some of my academic work, kindly click right here . I'm originally from Orange County. Yes, The OC . No, it is not like the show at all. Trust me, I get that a lot. I recently took up painting and I enjoy cooking new recipes. At the same time, I also tend to pass out on the couch after a night out at 2:00 am, waking up to the sound of construction with a thrilling ache between my temples. I started this blog because I thought it would be a good way for me to waste my time and your time instead of working on whatever we're supposed to be doing instead. Enjoy the mayhem! ​ If you'd like to contact me click here: ​ Contact me

  • Isabella's Personal Blog | Not in my Element

    Mar 19, 2021 4 min Here Lies My Sanity and Other Confessions I have a confession to make and it's so embarrassing. I have recently picked up a new obsession. OH how the mighty have fallen! Grieve... NEWEST POST Never Miss a New Post. Subscribe Thanks for subscribing! TRAIN OF THOUGHT Mar 19, 2021 4 min Here Lies My Sanity and Other Confessions I have a confession to make and it's so embarrassing. I have recently picked up a new obsession. OH how the mighty have fallen! Grieve... Jul 10, 2020 5 min The 5 Month Check-In 5 months into this COVID-19 quarantine. Insanity. Here's a little commentary to entertain you between scrolling through TikTok and Hamilton. May 23, 2020 5 min On Regression COVID-19 has forced many of us into our childhood homes. Suffering from regression is only natural. Nov 18, 2019 3 min On Inconveniences Disclaimer: There's no advice here on how to deal with inconveniences. Nov 11, 2019 2 min My Thoughts on 'Heathers' (1988) My thoughts on the 1988 film 'Heathers' Stream of Consciousness Posts are coming soon Stay tuned... Recommendations Isabella Billik Jul 10, 2020 5 min The 5 Month Check-In 5 months into this COVID-19 quarantine. Insanity. Here's a little commentary to entertain you between scrolling through TikTok and Hamilton. Isabella Billik Feb 2, 2020 4 min On Writing and Reading Self explanatory. Isabella Billik Nov 24, 2019 3 min Coming Home For the Holidays Thanksgiving is looming. Be prepared. Isabella Billik Nov 7, 2019 3 min A Formal Apology I'm sorry. Never ask me for directions. Isabella Billik Nov 7, 2019 3 min Why am I here? Introduction to my blog to be read at your convenience. Getting to Know Me ABOUT ME Hello! My name is Isabella Billik. I am a twenty-something-year-old from California. I occasionally write on this blog when I feel the urge to thought-dump into the void. I always feel out of my element, hence the name of said blog. And I enjoy long walks on the beach. Read More > SUBSCRIBE Subscribe Thanks for subscribing! MY PICK OF THE MONTH I recently read my beloved, Anthony Bourdain's classic book, Kitchen Confidential , and loved it immensely . It follows his life as a chef and details the life of a restaurant workers with brutal honesty. His witty writing style made me laugh out loud at times. It was very easy to read, so I highly recommend it as a switch-up from your average beach reading book.

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