23.

I often tell people that I’m lucky. 

That yes, while I have worked my ass off to be where I am today – a lot of it was still sheer luck.

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me in all of my glory on some church steps in Brooklyn after a night out 

I was lucky to be born six miles north of the border, on American soil. I was lucky that my grandparents made a choice 60 odd years ago so that the generations of their family that followed could have a better life. I was lucky to have parents who had the wisdom to know that hell or high water, they needed to find a way to pursue a college degree.

I didn’t have to work in a field and pick fruit like my mom and her siblings. I didn’t have to rely on joining the army for security, like my dad.

I am so lucky. 

And so when I get to stand in the lush, clean streets of Austin, Texas or on stages giving speeches in Houston or on the subway platforms of New York City, when I get to go on night tours of the Whitney, when I get to sit in on meetings with surgeons and transplant coordinators, when I get to work shoulder to shoulder with such diversely skilled and brilliant teams – I am immensely, immensely humbled.

I grew up with the space to dream, and to do work that I believed in. And that alone, is a privilege. 

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If you’ve been keeping up with my posts you already know this, but in order for me to pack up so quickly and live and work in New York the last three months – I crowdfunded my plane ticket. In less than a week, I had a whopping $2,185 – enough for a plane ticket and first month of rent and a half. 98% of the donations came from my community back home in Brownsville – people I knew who couldn’t comfortably give $10, much less $100. But this little border community that I’m from, they believed. They believed in the work I’d be contributing to and what it could do for the nation’s health, and for many – their own loved ones. 

This product, was now influencing and being watched by people from highest the halls of power in DC to the deepest parts of South Texas. 

And this is why more of us need to be in the room. And this is why I’m lucky, because of generations before me that fought to make sure I could. 

For the past four years on my birthday, I’ve created a Birthday Campaign page on DonorsChoose.org and asked friends and family to support and donate to a classroom of their choice in the Rio Grande Valley. Seeing as I’ve already asked people for quite a bit of money this year, I thought I’d try something different and instead come up with 23 ways you can pay it forward. The best way to celebrate life, is by giving life – no? 

Last but not least, before I get into it: 

I am so grateful to see this 23rd year of life. I have had the opportunity to live the most amazing and brilliant story, and while I don’t want it to end anytime soon.. know that if it did – I leave more than content. 

If there is one large lesson I’ve taken away from the past 364 days, it is that there is no such thing as a greater good. There is only good. Here’s to it. 

_________________ 

  1. Write more letters. Just because letters, just wanted to tell you to keep your chin up letters, I am grateful for your mentorship letters. 
  2. Volunteer at your local literacy center. 
  3. Or animal shelter. Fostering kittens with APA is a ~prime~ hilight of my life in Austin.
  4. Or soup kitchen, or hospital, or any other community organization that literally needs some extra hands. 
  5. Donate your skills pro-bono to a local non-profit. 
  6. Hey, donate a kidney! No, but like, for real…  
  7. Sponsor a youth sports team, or volunteer to work with your local Y’s youth groups. Or if you don’t have either in your city, MAKE ONE! 
  8. Adopt a park, a highway, a school garden, etc. and devote this year to beautifying it. There is a power in a community or a student having a beautiful, safe, welcoming space to come to. 
  9. Go to your city council meetings. You don’t need to focus on philanthropic world domination, try giving a sh*t about the world right on your block. 
  10. Spend more time with the younger ones in your life. Take that little cousin to the movie, to coffee, or if you’re far like I am – remember to pick up the phone. (..Hi Evelyn, yes, I know I’m not the best at this quite yet)
  11. Be a saint, like my brother, and drop by an older family member’s house on a consistent basis and keep them company. 
  12. Take the extra few minutes to open the door, pull over when you see someone with a flat, offer your umbrella up if it’s raining outside and you’re both walking the same direction. 
  13. Send someone flowers just ’cause you can. (Support local florists, but if you’re trying to do delivery…
  14. Support the ideas and dreams of teachers and students in your area. Go to DonorsChoose.org and sift through classroom projects via zip code or category. 
  15. Fund an innovative Kickstarter. My current fave: the Purpose Hotel
  16. Ask people ‘how are you?’, and mean it, and listen.
  17. Give your friend’s projects some extra love on social media. Be the cheerleader you need every now and then. 
  18. Take that ‘dang, that girl looks great in that dress‘ compliment out of your headspace and actually give it. Sidenote. Whenever Carlos (re: brother) looks across the room and points out a girl he thinks is looking extra pretty, I always encourage him to go up and tell her and it’s THE best when I see their face light up from the unexpected compliment. Don’t be a creep though; I always tell him to use this line, and then walk away so they don’t feel pressured to react: “Hey, in case no one has told you today – you look very beautiful. Have a great rest of your night.” Boom. 
  19. Hug like you mean it. 
  20. Be the friend that comes to the rescue without being asked. Bring the Zyrtec, the soup, the green smoothie, or in some occasions – the wine. 
  21. DONATE BLOOD! You can donate every three months, and with one pint can save up to three lives. 
  22. Write good Yelp reviews for businesses you like, I promise – it actually matters and can help their presence. 
  23. Smile. Do it when you ask the waiter for their name, when you pass the doormen on the street in the morning, when you offer to help the struggling parent juggle their bags and their baby. 

Because where there is love, there is always time. 

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P.S. You all know I love my playlists. Check out what I’ll be vibin’ to this weekend here. 

Less Than

I hadn’t intended to push this blog post, it was written in earnest but .. there was just something about it, it didn’t feel fully baked. And then an Uncle found it and passed it to an ex student who was having some difficulty adjusting to college, and then a friend of a friend of a friend found it, etc. Moments like these remind me just how quickly things move on the internet. 

I ran this post by a friend of mine, and she voiced what I couldn’t quite articulate earlier: my anger didn’t have a purpose. My anger here was justified, relatable, but I needed a stronger call to action. Or to be honest, it didn’t matter. As I was doing some soul searching to figure out what that looked like, I received a text from another great friend of mine who is about to begin her first year of teaching (send Sara Morris all the vibes, y’all). 

She was leading a panel for 9th and 10th graders and was inviting me to attend and speak. I was still in New York at the time so I couldn’t attend, but it made me think about everything I would have told them. And in many ways, this post is an ode to that: 

More often than not, you’ll be alone in your pursuit to greatness – however you choose to define that for yourself. Don’t get me wrong – it takes a village. It always takes a village. When you get where you’re going, you can’t forget everyone who helped you get there, from the barista who kept it comin’ to the friend of a friend who passed along your resume. But, at the end of the day, the choices you make are ultimately responsible for the future you create. You have to believe in yourself and what you know you have the potential to do, more than anyone else in the room. Choose what standard you are going to hold yourself responsible for, and keep pushing. 

Now, to the story I almost didn’t tell. 

——————-

I’ll never forget the first time I was made to feel less than

I was 17. I was lucky, I grew up on the Texas-Mexico border – over 5 hours away from the next major metropolis (San Antonio) – and in this twisted sense, I was lucky. I was never less than in the valley. Everyone looked like me. Everyone spoke like me. 

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And then I was 17, and I had landed a prestigious internship position (never doubt the power of cold calling) at the local District Attorney’s office the summer before I began my senior year of high school. 

I was so excited. I can clearly remember my mom and I going to JC Penny and Gap, looking for business attire. I felt like I was playing dress up, and I loved it. Shiny slacks that fit just right, slack shorts for when the weather undoubtedly hit the 100s in a place like Brownsville.

Way back when, I had dreams of becoming an immigration lawyer. What better way to save my corner of the world, I thought. My heroes. And then I met them

My male ‘mentor’ of sorts at the office took me around to meet all the lawyers, as I would essentially be their paralegal for the next 3 months. Degrees from Harvard, Baylor, the University of Texas, Princeton.

We rounded the corner into a group of young, white attorneys. My mentor introduced me, and they smiled, looked at each other, and then asked: “Is she hire to iron the shirts?” And then they laughed. 

Is she here to iron the shirts. 

I wish I could say I stood up for myself, said something – but I froze. I laughed when they laughed. And so did my mentor. 

That wouldn’t be the last bit I heard that summer (I dearly wish I had known what exactly sexual harassment constituted of back then),  and it would take me a very long time to look back on that moment and take it in for all it was. It stayed with me, I can remember each of their faces, what exact corner of that office it happened, and exactly what I was wearing — and I couldn’t quite figure out why until recently. 

It was the first time I felt the color of my skin. Felt it, my brownness, like a dirty blanket I couldn’t just rip off. I looked at the characters that people of my skin tone and background played in entertainment, and for the first time I understood what they saw when they looked at me. 

I understood that I was the color of my skin, my gender, and then – then I was perhaps Analisa. If I could sound smart enough, If I could dress well enough, if I remembered to wear sunscreen so that I wouldn’t get too dark and maintain a more approachable honey color. 

So why the hell am I writing all this now? 

A lot of people I open up to about my qualms with ‘color in the corner office,’ don’t quite get it. They come from border towns like I do, but they’ve never left them. Or they work in industries where people aren’t constantly trying to set up ‘diversity officers,’ and they aren’t the only brown person for 200 persons worth of miles. Or they have the ‘privilege’ to be light skinned, light eyed Latinos and go unnoticed.

And I have probably just broached the surface of the tension I have yet to face. 

But I’m angry. 

I’m angry that this week I found out that only 23 families in the 2015-16 calendar year in the 1.8 mil pop of South Texas agreed to deceased donation, I’m angry with health disparities. I’m angry that while Trader Joe’s is the most affordable grocer option I’ve ever come across, they only seem to populate in more well off areas. I’m angry that the public school I volunteered at in Austin can have crumbling ceilings and mold, and in that same district a few miles away in a nicer neighborhood sits a beauty.  I’m angry that the YMCA hasn’t invested in a Y anywhere south of Corpus Christi. I’m angry that I even have to explain to people how and why exactly Trump’s conversations around Latin Americans, specifically Mexicans, are upsetting. I’m angry that I have to explain why #BlackLivesMatter, why #AllLivesMatter, but how right now we’re talking about #BlackLives dangit. I’m angry that kids are growing up in Brownsville, Texas with the nearest bookstore being an hour away. I’m angry that 88% of visitors to the National Parks this year were white. I’m angry that I have to explain how I didn’t steal your spot, how just because you did Teach for America in the 956 for a year, you can’t run around saying that the Valley is like a ‘third world country’ and asking me how I could possibly get into a school like UT Austin. I’m angry when you call me articulate. 

 I’m angry that I feel more at home in a city like New York, than where I grew up the last 22 years. I’m angry that I don’t want to go back, I’m angry that for the first time I don’t feel like I need to prove myself 10x more. 

I’m angry. And I promise, I’m doing something about all of it. I’ve started a sentence with, “I know this is the middle of the day and you don’t know me but..” more times than I’ve said hello to people I actually know this week. 

But, I digress. 

It’s not my point to say that Texas can suck, that people suck, that the color of my skin has held me back. 

In fact, it’s empowered me. All of it. Its lit a fire.  

What I’m here to say is – in the words of Seuss – 

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Give a shit. 

Give more shits than anyone else in the room. And then don’t just be about it, do something about it. People like me, need people like you. 

 

Because God forbid, another 17 year old walks into her first internship and gets asked if she’s there to iron the fucking shirts. 

 

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Hi from NY!

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while.

I’d tell myself that I’d wait until I was in the perfect park. The best pier with the best view. Over the perfect cup of coffee.

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What can I say, I’m extraordinarily picky about aesthetics.

I’d lug my laptop around everywhere, just waiting for the spark to hit.  With much satisfaction, I report that I think I have indeed finally found the writing spot.

Context: there is a printing press IN this bookstore that prints self-published works. Like, smack in the middle of the store between the hours of 12-6PM. They have books hanging from the ceiling, seating for customers against one of the walls with dark wood mini drop leaf tables that fold out in the shape of books. I’m also sitting next to a guy in a suit with a Mets cap who appears to be typing out a novel on his laptop (times new roman font in caps lock, double spaced, he’s on page 90 – what else could it be?), with a yellow padfolio by his side where he’s writing edits. He occasionally stops and looks around for a few minutes at a time —  I’d like to think that he’s trying to gather inspiration for characters while he does this, and that one day I’ll read about the girl in the button front canvas skirt and grey tee shirt that sat next to his novel’s protagonist. Cue love story.

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As for the “spark,” ..  I’m out of excuses at this point, and if I can’t find it in me to write in this magical little book store next to this mysterious author bro, when will I ever.

So, New York.

It’s crazy to think that a little more than a month ago, I was sitting cross legged on my couch in Austin, about to press send on an email that would a week later, land me here.

Home has always been a fluid notion for me. An age-old cliché for sure, but I believe home is where the heart is. And my heart was in the industry changing, time sensitive, life saving work that ORGANIZE was doing. That I could be doing.

When I was sitting on that couch in Austin, furiously scrolling through Facebook groups for a place to live and calling my mom at 1AM asking her to come up to Austin to help me pack (actually, this conversation began with “look mom, I need you to just listen to me first and not saying anything until I’m completely done”) but please-don’t-tell-dad-until-the-morning, I knew I’d be alright.

I’d fall in love with New York, or damnit, I’d make it fall in love with me. Either way. We were gonna learn how to live with each other.

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When friends and family ask me what I think of the city, I always say: it’s everything amazing, and everything exhausting.

The hustle is inspiring. Every dream you ever had will grow 10x, along with the urgency to make it happen. I’m a huge museum buff and coffee shop dweller, and the city lacks neither. My cup runneth over.

But it’s dirty. Claustrophobic  at times. My feet just lost their blisters a week ago. Grocery shopping is stressful. Rush hour in the subway sucks. The green spaces are beautiful, but you can’t help but want more when you’re from a state like Texas (we’re really hashtag blessed, ya’ll).

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Everything amazing, and everything exhausting.

But still, my heart is now here. So here is home, for now.

It would be impossible to summarize the work I am apart of with ORGANIZE in one blog post, and you have to be very careful about what you publicly say in this space because it is a sensitive one, but what I can say is:

Politics. They shouldn’t have room to exist in some spaces.

Transplant surgeons and altruistic donors are absolute heroes.

No one should have to wait in a list 120,000 people long.  22 people shouldn’t be dying every. single. day because they couldn’t receive an organ in time.

Smart and innovative tech is the solution to many of America’s problems.

Our technology is changing the space as we know it. In 20 years, I know I will look back at the body of work I have helped to contribute to, and I truly believe it will be one of my proudest moments.

ORGANIZE created a centralized registry, you already know that. We helped lead the conversation at the White House Organ Summit a few weeks ago. But, in my opinion, what we have next in front of us is even greater. We have pioneered something we are calling social declarations, creating an app to help connect patients in need of an organ (82% of patients waiting are in need of a kidney) to living donors, and are also working on bridging the health disparity gap in minority communities, beginning with a beta test group in Washington Heights. I’m also working on a nation-wide Latino focused campaign that has a ton of my heart, and along with our director of partnerships, am working with a group of high school students on another project that I’m unsure if I can speak to quite yet.

The hustle and the inspiration is alive and well and lit.

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Which makes it even more important for me to remember to pull myself back down to earth.

Some places are harder to keep perspective than others, New York is definitely one of those.

This is where I replay Simon Sinek’s story of the Styrofoam Cup. You can click and take a listen, but the core lesson of it all: 

“As you become more successful, as you do well in life, you will be afforded many advantages. People will call you sir and mam, carry your luggage, hold open doors for you, they will bring you a cup of tea without you even asking for it. But it’s not meant for you. It’s meant for the position you hold. And when you move on, they will give all those things to the person who replaces you. Never, ever forget that you only ever deserved the Styrofoam cup.”

I don’t remind myself of this story to lessen who I am and what I do. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t own your place, lean in, ask for more. But if anything has become more clear to me as I’ve grown in my career, and especially here:

You can’t get where you’re going, if you don’t remember where you’re from.

Let me say that again.

You can’t get where you’re going, if you don’t remember where you’re from.

I sit here in this gorgeous shop in Nolita with my $7 coffee, live in a building I quite honestly don’t deserve to live in but was just crazy lucky to get a deal at, am surrounded by the brightest minds at the most amazing job, but at the end of the day:

I am Analisa Cantu. 2nd gen Mexican-American. Border born and raised. Public and state school educated. Daughter of a third grade bilingual teacher and school district maintenance supervisor.

And I don’t forget it, because I quite actually wouldn’t be here if I ever allowed myself to. That GoFundMe that helped me get to New York so quickly? 98% funded by people from the Valley. My plane ticket and my first month of rent. Past students I’ve worked with, friends, people from high school who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years, strangers of friends, past teachers.

So, to drill it in one more time:

You can’t get where you’re going, if you don’t remember where you’re from.

Stay humble, stay kind, there is always time —

 

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Why I Choose to #DonateMyParts

I’ve always been an advocate for organ donation. It just made sense. Why would you bury a body that could in the least, save five others if not more? Then again, I’ve never even believed in traditional burial – gross, hi cremation. 

But I wouldn’t come to fully understand just how important that little heart was on the bottom right corner of my ID until I was 16 and watching my then boyfriend’s family struggle, financially and emotionally, to get their dad to top of a waiting list for a double lung transplant. He passed before he was able to get there. And then again when I was 17, when I interviewed a fifteen year old girl at my high school with stage 4 ovarian cancer who also needed a liver transplant. Against all odds, Valeria came out a survivor. A year after the article went to print she was named Miracle Patient of the Year by the university hospital at San Antonio, and is now actually a Pre-Med student at St. Mary’s. 

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There is so much more to these stories, but undoubtedly, they changed my life. 

So when I first heard about ORGANIZE six months ago, a startup that had found a way to end the organ shortage and #endthewaitlist, I knew I had to find a way to be apart of the team. 

So that’s why in the past 72 hours I’ve found a second job (nonprofitstipendlife), signed a sublet agreement, found my own subletter here in Austin, am taking my last two finals and then packing up everything I own and delivering it 6 hours south with my parents before I fly out on Sunday. 

I’m doing something that doesn’t make a lot of sense (figuring out how to move my life within a week), for something that makes a whole hell of a lot of sense (fixing a broken system that has 22 people dying on a waitlist each day). 

ORGANIZE has created the nation’s first Central Organ Donor Registry, and by this time next week, I will be in New York working with a small, but brilliant team of 11 people to work on expanding it to all 50 states. To give you some context, before ORGANIZE came onto the scene there were 52 different registries not speaking to each other and people could only register at the DMV. 

The goal is to go out of business within five years because we have so sufficiently increased the supply of donated hearts, lungs, and pancreases to outstrip the demand for them. 

I don’t think many people get to say that they work on issues that keep them up at night. To say that I am blessed with this opportunity and ready to pour everything I have into the next three months is an understatement. I can’t even get through a a five-piece Snapchat explaining what I’m about to go do without tearing up. 

I choose to #donatemyparts, because it makes sense. I’ve turned my life around in less than three days and am hopping on a plane this Sunday because it makes sense

Learn about my campaign and the details righttttttt hereeeeee

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Meet my team

And thank you in advance to anyone who has decided to donate and help me relieve some of the financial stress so that I can focus on the work at hand – saving some lives and #endingthewaitlist. 

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When Your Friends Get Married

One of my childhood friends, and OG girl squad members is getting married this weekend. She’s the first of my closest circle of friends to get hitched, and as the date has inched closer and closer, its brought on the strangest mix of emotions. 

I was texting our mutual bestie Ximena (also the maid of honor) about it earlier this week, and I was telling her how it all felt so bittersweet. I was sad, just as much as I was happy, and Ximena came out and said she had actually been tearing up about it earlier as well – ha!

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I think that while we’d like to imagine that things will be the same when our friends get married, we all know the friendship dynamic tends to shift even when our friends begin dating someone more seriously. And it’s that sense of loss, this inability to spontaneously have a sleepover or go out or travel to each other’s cities when we want to, that I think has me feeling all types of ways. When your friend gains a husband or a wife, priorities inevitably shift, and I think it’s especially strange feeling at this tender age of 21-22. 

We each have a different definition of happiness and that’s something that I think also gets increasingly more difficult to accept within your friendships as you get older. I’ll admit, when I first heard that Christian was planning to propose to Brenda, I. freaked. out. All that could go through my head was how she had never extensively traveled by herself or lived alone, hadn’t even had her first full-time job yet.. and every other experience that I felt I would need to have before I chose to commit body and soul to someone for the rest of my life. Emphasis on the I, I, I

The obvious thing is, this wasn’t my show. You’re talking to the girl that partly moved into a one bedroom apartment because I knew I was in a fairly serious relationship that had begun talking about the future, and even the thought of moving from my parent’s house, to a dorm with a roommate, to a home with a partner suffocated the hell out of me. 

It wasn’t my dream, but it had become Brenda’s- and it’s a beautiful thing to watch anyone’s dreams begin to come true. 

To see her see that ring on her hand for the first time. To see her grocery shopping for not one, but two. To watch her move into her first apartment with her fiance this past weekend.

It’s magical.

I’ve never been one to believe that a person can “complete” you. That’s nonsense. But I think it is indeed a wonderful thing when we can find someone who inspires us to be more like Christ. Or, in other terms, to be the best damn versions of ourselves we possibly could be. 

And I think that Brenda and Christian have found that in each other.  

I’ll end this with one of my favorites: Love is not sentimental. It fights for and pursues the things that matter. It’s fierce. It endures. 

 

Here’s to a weekend full of it, 

 

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My Favorite Podcasts

It’s raining buckets in Austin right now. I made the brilliant decision to moped off to a lake coffee shop before it fully hit, and just as I thought it might have let up and I could leave – I got a flash flood warning on my phone. Before I give up and either keep my tab running or commit potential moped-suicide through the heavy rain*, I thought this would be a great excuse to finally finish this post. Also, isn’t this the best weather for podcasts n chill? 

First though, this playlist. Click. Get into the vibe. Then read on.

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I got into the podcast game a little over a year ago. I was getting too bored listening to music as I got dressed and through some random tweets, ended up befriending Kevin P. of the then-fresh but now waytoocoolforschool Gilmore Guys podcast. I began listening, and continued listening ..and quickly fell into the deep black hole of the podcast universe. 

Now, I listen to around two podcasts on the daily. One while I’m getting dressed, and one stretched out throughout the day, in between walking places or cooking dinner or running. My favorite podcasts have 40% to do with the content and 60% to do with the personality of the hosts. To preface the statement I’m about to make: I promise I have wonderful friends ..but I really love podcasts because if you keep following along, you feel like it’s a friend filling in those empty spaces in the day when you click play. Plus these hosts can be the most incredible storytellers, and almost always have equally great voices. 

It’s like adult storytime. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s inspiring. Sometimes it’s both. 

Here are my #1s: 

Strangers: If you do nothing else, listen to Lea Thau’s voice. I am obsessed with Lea’s velvety, whisper-like voice. I initially clicked on this podcast when I saw it on the “featured” page in iTunes because of the title alone. I was way intrigued, and was not disappointed. Strangers features “true stories about people we meet, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that we aren’t even who we thought we were.” It’s like Humans of New York juice-level, except Brandon Lea gives you 40 minutes instead of one paragraph. On top of the amazing content, Lea’s journalism skills are out of this world. She always ends the podcast with some tidbit she takes away that makes your mind go *poof.* 

Reply All: As their tagline says, this is a podcast ‘all about the internet.’ Episodes on the weirdest GIFs on the internet and how they came to be to the story behind a darknet of sorts that exists for women in need to bid on breastmilk (#institutionalfailures). PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman are what make the show what it is though. They play off of each other so well, and aside of the great content, they have funny segments that run in between. My favorite is where they go geek squad lawyer and do things like help a viewer in NY figure out why he can’t get Fios (Verizon’s fiber-optic wifi). 

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This American Life: … is actually the most popular podcast in the country, and for good reason. What I like most about TAL is that each episode has a theme (typically niche, and somewhat outlandish), with multiple stories within it. I listened to an episode last week entitled “Same Bed, Different Dreams,” that had stories from migrant workers in deplorable conditions to a woman who stalked her doppleganger. They all tied together at the end, but in short – TAL is brilliant journalism and production. I don’t listen as frequently as the other podcasts on the list because although Ira Glass is the main host, it fluctuates at times, and I just don’t feel as emotionally invested. They can also have some heavy stuff for an AM commute. 

Call Your Girlfriend: STOP EVERYTHING AND GO LISTEN TO AMINATOU AND ANN – is what I would like to tell everyone I run into these days, and sometimes do. If you want your politics, popculture, and tech news delivered in between hilarious bites and friendship, you’ll love CYG. I have burst out laughing in the quietest spaces because of these two, and learned things such as wtf is this Blac Chyna / Rob K. drama all about to how 90% of VCs are men and how that has sucked for lady inventors

Invisibilia: If you are a Freakonomics lover, you’ll especially like this one. Invisibilia actually translates to ‘the invisible things’ in Latin, and is a podcast that explores “the invisible forces that shape human behavior — things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions – interweaving narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently.” It’s fascinating stuff. They’ve been on hiatus for quite a bit, but you can still catch all of their past season. 

The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes: Lewis is an A+ interviewer. He has a great comeback kid story himself, but it’s the mix of characters he brings into his podcast that make the show so great. One week you’ll listen to Arianna Huffington, and the next to relationship expert Tracy McMillan. This is a show where I have pulled out my moleskine and just spent the hour writing down all the knowledge I can soak up. I recommend this podcast all the time, it’s an amazing resource and well of wisdom. 

Have any pod recs I don’t have listed here? Shoot me a message! And duh, if you listen to one of these, please tell all so we can gab together. 

P.S. I’ve actually been told by a number of people that I should shift this blog to a pod, and  …I’m thinking about it. 

 

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*I ended up moped-ing home when I thought it had cleared up. I actually had to stop six blocks in to my commute home and stick my phone in my pants and secure my laptop underneath my shirt because I was too worried about it in my tote. (Also, are we friends on snap yet? @analisacantu)

 

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Four Years Later

I’m going to let you in on a dirty, dirty secret. My 4AM, 5AM, and 6AM (hi, I’m Analisa and I’m a deep sleeper) alarm is set to Taylor Swift’s Blank Space. 

Except it wasn’t passive aggressive pop lyrics coming at me at 6AM last Tuesday. It was my good friend Victoria (you’ve met her here) — and we spent the next 30 minutes crafting an email that would completely change her career path. Well, to clarify, what everyone else thought her career path should look like. 

That isn’t my story to tell today, I promise you’ll hear it on this blog from V at a later date. But the l&s of it is: she said no, to say yes to something greater. 

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@vvochoa 

Throughout this 30 minute back and forth and “should I sign sincerely or best?”partly to calm but also because I genuinely meant it, I kept telling her: “Victoria, you’re going to be okay. You’ve done the work. Now is the time for you to call in the favors. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” 

While I’ll get back to that phone call, stay with me here, this leads me to the next little secret I’ve been keeping close: 

I’ve officially decided to take a fifth year so that I can study abroad. There are a lot of reasons behind this sharp left turn, and I’m not exactly known for being risk-averse so this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. I first went into detail about being at this crossroads here, and I figured that when I began mentioning it in my cover letters, it was time to also release it out on the internets. 

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There are a lot of tummy flips here, but in reality this really only changes one thing – how I will be spending this semester job hunting. It has changed the conversation with a few people and essentially, I get an extra summer to get to know another company and team without the strings of signing a full time offer. 

Pinging back to Victoria: I kept repeating to her that it was going to be okay, that she had done the work, that she needed to not be self-conscious about asking for help — because I have very much been telling myself these things the past month. 

While I’m very confident in my choice, my heart has still found a way to fly up to my throat as I type this out ..but in a loud-whisper, “this is right,” kind of way. You ever hear the whisper? Occasionally known as God, sometimes known as the Universe?

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I don’t have the usual anxieties that plague soon-to-be grads: I’m not worried about finding a job. Or paying off loans (hey there, 80k). Or finding soul filling work. I don’t mean to come off as naive or pretentious, or to glorify the sometime 40-80 hour work weeks I’ve taken on while a student — my path to this point of career peace has not been easy. And honestly, I don’t know if I’d do it over, or at least to the extremes that I took it to.

But it has brought me here

Four years later I have tangible skills to lean on, a portfolio of great work and successful metrics, and most importantly, with all the sincerity I can muster I mean this, MOST importantly — the people I’ve met along the way.

I’ve been apart of some amazing teams who still feel like family, and have had co-workers who are still great friends. And man, it’s when you can email an ex-manager with a list of companies you just cold emailed / applied to and she excitedly calls you three minutes later and directly connects you to each of them..

… that you fully realize just how much life is all about good people. Your people.

In the words of Tracy McMillan, “You keep what you give away.” 

I’m taking this fifth year to study abroad because I feel like I wouldn’t be honoring my dreams or living bravely enough if I didn’t. In the long run I intend to work for a company that allows me to travel, but I know that there is no time like now to travel for 5 months with zero strings attached. 

To come full circle with this: 

Not too long ago I was asked what kind of companies I liked to work for by a new acquaintance, and I joked and said ‘companies that give a shit, more shits than anyone else.’ 

This has now become my new social headline (in a slightly more PC version), because that’s the truest way I can describe the kind of people and work I want to dedicate my time to. And I don’t think it’s overly optimistic to say that the majority of us feel this way, have these larger, altruistic goals. 

I think back to my first day of college, and then to now. Four years changes a lot, but it never changed my sense of possibility. This big belief that turned into a deep conviction, that I could still be and do anything I truly set my mind to. 

In the end, isn’t that all we have? 

Let us not be so foolish to think it’s ever too late to live out our day dreams. Change our minds. Take sharp left turns. 

“We’re not that young.
We’ve always been young
But now we’re not that young.

And the world is so beautiful.

And this is what we’ve got, you know?”

– Marina Keegan

 

Here’s to possibility, and the good people along the way — 

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