Archive | October, 2012

Ode to the Slutty Halloween Costume

24 Oct

Halloween is a pretty stressful holiday. Why? It’s not because you’re stressing about the act of wearing a costume (Because duh, you should. Only un-fun people refuse to dress-up). It’s over what (or who) you should dress up as. Should your costume be slutty or tasteful? Scary or stupid? Let’s be real – for most girls, slutty prevails. Thus, we arrive at the question even more puzzling than why Justin Timberlake didn’t pick me: What is the appeal of the slutty Halloween costume?

Ooooo! (raising my hand reeeeeally high). I can answer that. I am the queen of the slutty Halloween costume. When will I grow out of this stage? Hopefully never.

This year, like many years prior, it’s truly a struggle of mind-over-matter. When am I too old to wear the slutty Halloween costume? Haven’t I worn enough slutty costumes over the years? Hmm. Like the Ghost of Christmas past yields to the meanness of Ebenezer Scrooge, the Ghost of Halloweens past wants to take you on a journey of  Kerry’s costumes of yesteryear…

19-Year-Old-College-Freshman Kerry: A Naughty Schoolgirl. Wait, stop right there – before you judge: in 2002, this costume was still hot and original. My then-roommate french braided my hair and I rocked a Limited Two pleated skirt (two sizes too small), a crop top, and white knee-highs. However, that doesn’t leave blogger walls…I’m pretty sure I told my mom I was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, instead.

20-Year-Old-Broke Kerry: A Black Cat. Spandex, ears, tail, and a nose. I’m pretty sure my costume cost less than $10. That was the year I got into my only-ever verbal spat with a chick. She was hogging the beer pong table. No bueno. Meeeeow.

21-Year-Old-I-Can-Legally-Drink Kerry: A Fairy Godmother. I walked around a frat party in my senior prom dress and held a wand. When cute boys approached, I tapped them with my wand and batted my eyelashes. This action made my wish come true: Friday night dates lined up for at least a month. Ah, to be young again.

25-Year-Old-in-the-Desert Kerry: Tinkerbell. What is up with me and fairy things? Covered in way too much glitter, this costume was slutty in a simplistic way. Tights, strappy dress, heels…wow, I was losing my touch. Boooring. Hey, I was living in Arizona. It was too hot to think.

28-Year-Old-Newly-Single-Back-in-the-Game Kerry: Varsity Cheerleader. I actually tried to bad-ass up this costume. My friend and I were “rival” cheerleaders (I on the blue team, she on the red). However, the skirt was short enough for scandal. I made sure of it.

29-Year-Old-and-Living-It-Up-Before-30 Kerry: A Cop. My sluttiest costume to-date. I don’t want to give too much away before the big reveal, but let’s just say one of my best friends is going to be “jailbait” just so my costume won’t look so ridiculously standout. That’s love right there.

At this point in the story, newly epiphanic Scrooge would head back to the real world, pack up his money, and start dishing out some serious gifts. If I chose to parallel, it’s at this point my subconscious is supposed to say, “Hey lady, grow up. You’re a professional member of society, an award-winning marketer, and a respected teacher. You need to start Grandma-ing up your chosen October digs. It’s time. Let it go.”

Sorry, Ghost. You got nothing on me. I choose to fight the system.

The reality is, a slutty Halloween costume has no reflection on your real-life personal taste, personality, or professionalism. Additionally – contrary to popular belief – a slutty costume does not automatically imply you are throwing out the “I want attention” card. Wearing a slutty Halloween costume can give a woman the opportunity to feel sexy and confident (Yes, it’s true – sometimes we really like wearing next-to-nothing to feel this way). Further, it can give a women the once-a-year opportunity to dress without judgement. Who cares if the costume looks like a nightie? Maybe she’s always wanted to wear a nightie outdoors. All the power to you, sister. Halloween allows her that freedom.

I am a proud advocate of the slutty Halloween costume. I don’t see myself growing out of this mantra anytime soon. Do you respect me less? Think I’m less intelligent? Feel sad because my costumes are a cry for attention?

I didn’t think so. Like many other women who sluttify their outfits around October 31st, I’m just playing dress-up.

Author’s Note: If you are reading this blog post and wear your slutty Halloween costume throughout the year…Goodnight and good luck.

The Facebook Self-Check. A Love Story.

14 Oct

Hello, my name is Kerry O’Grady…and I’m in love with Facebook.

The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

I was a late social media bloomer. When Facebook was hot, I had no interest. I didn’t join until 2009. Once I did, I became fascinated with friending, liking, status-updating, inviting, etc. Three and a half years later, I still can’t get enough. I track social media influencers, am an avid commenter, and am the first person to wish someone a happy birthday. What I can’t pinpoint is WHY I’m so obsessed. I’m a crazy-busy 29-year-old. Don’t I have better things to do? What is it about Facebook?

This fall, I’m guest-lecturing the graduate level social media class at NYU. A few weeks ago, I conducted a lesson on the current social media landscape and leading practices. I spent a good 15 minutes on why people use social media. Some of these reasons included meeting new people, entertainment, and coupons/promotions. If I could dissect why the universe uses social media (as a whole), then I could certainly dissect why I’m (personally) so obsessed with Facebook, right? It’s time for some soul-searching.

I spent a good two days making a list of all the reasons why I love Facebook. After looking at the list, I realized I’m pretty awesome at lying to myself. My list included “research for my students,” “capstone topics,” “monitoring for work,” “remembering birthdays,” and things of the like. Sure, these are rational reasons for my unhealthy attachment, but they aren’t true. The truth to why I’m so obsessed lies deep. It’s time for the real Facebook Kerry O’Grady to please stand up. I threw away my list and decided to get real. Here are the top five reasons why I’m so in love with Facebook:

1. They Like Me, They Really Like Me!: I was never a cheerleader. I never made out with the football captain. I wasn’t homecoming queen. I suck at all sports that require coordination. I’ve always been a huge dork. In high school, I was a floater. I got along with everyone. I had the same experience in college and in the workforce. However, the term “popular” never really suited me. On Facebook, with over 1,000 friends, I feel super popular. It’s a strange sense of awesomeness. Simply, I can’t get enough.

2. Funny Girl: For anyone who knows me, I’m pretty (love-ably) awkward. I deliver jokes a little too late. Sometimes, I say things that make no sense (but they do in my head, I swear). I also have the innate ability to interject myself into conversations at the worst times possible (for example, someone will be talking about cooking chicken and somehow, when I join in, the conversation will turn into how I was a chicken for Halloween once. Fail). The thing is, I’m a writer. By nature, my delivery on paper is much better than my delivery in person. One of my biggest joys in life is making people laugh. When I can do this through a status update or comment, it truly makes my day. On Facebook, I don’t come off awkward. I come off comically gifted. I can totally live with that.

3. Baby, You’re a Star: I’ll admit it. I love seeing myself in pictures. This is not because I love seeing how I looked or I want everyone to see who I was with. There are two reasons why I love uploading pictures to Facebook: First, I love capturing memories with my friends and sharing them with each other without the annoyance of emailing/photo developing. Secondly, (don’t judge me), I love photo-bombing. I’m sorry, this is true. I love finding myself in random pictures on Facebook and being like, “Dude, I don’t even remember taking that picture…and who WAS that guy?” It always makes for a good story.

4. From the Peanut Gallery: I love (love) giving advice. If I wasn’t a writer/marketer/teacher, I so would fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a psychologist. However, not everyone wants your comments or advice. Actually, most of the time they don’t. On Facebook, I don’t have to hold my tongue – I can comment and give advice as much as I want, without being asked. Hellooooo comment field. Dr. Kerry, in the house (woot woot).

5. Reconnecting: Because I’m a hugely relational person, people are the focus of my existence. I spend a lot of time thinking about others, especially when I haven’t spoken to them in awhile. However, my life is nuts. I don’t have much time to call or email friends. This is especially true with my out-of-town friends, as I’m forever trying to make phone dates that sometimes never come to fruition. With Facebook, I can easily let them know I’m thinking about them in less than 2.5 seconds, no matter how long it’s been. It also makes me feel better about my sporadic phone calls or hours-in-between text messages. Now, if only my parents would join Facebook…

In short, Facebook and I have a bond that can’t easily be broken. We laugh together. We cry together. We over-share together. I’ve embraced the real motives behind our relationship. I challenge you to do the same.

Why I Went to Graduate School

4 Oct

Last night, I received my monthly bill for my graduate studies at NYU. Per usual, I winced, shed a tear, and wrote the check. Going to bed, I asked myself the same question I do every month – why did I go to grad school?

The honest Abe answer? A mix between the delirium of Arizona heat (I lived in Phoenix at the time) and needing career advancement.

It wasn’t like I was going to be a doctor, lawyer, or anything else that required further study. I was going to end up in advertising or marketing – where I started. I chose an M.S. in public relations program so I could merge my existing skill set with one that fine-tuned my writing skills and overall, make me into a more mature, refined individual. I also was moving from Phoenix to New York City, so demanding more money with an M.S. was absolutely part of the plan. I also knew I wanted to teach, and I couldn’t do that with just a B.A. I also wanted to be closer to my family (in the Boston area). Thus, in January 2010, I packed my bags and to University I went.

Almost three years later, I still ponder my decision. 

Let me start with the bennies – I absolutely did merge my existing skill set with a new one and broke the mold by using my PR degree to further my current career path. I’m confident I’m the best writer I can be, thanks to my PR professors. Post-graduation, I also earned an adjunct instructor gig. Out of everything I do on a daily basis, teaching is, by far, my most rewarding endeavor. I am so in love (I’ll expand on this in a future blog post). I also experienced invaluable networking opportunities and made many new friends. The latter points are well-worth the money.

Here’s the bad news: When I looked for a corporate job after grad school, potential employers couldn’t have cared less about my advanced degree. It didn’t affect salary negotiations and for the most part, that pretty diploma was ignored. Further, when it was previously assumed you could get a professor position with a master’s degree, frankly, you can’t. You need a doctorate, and there is no way I’m going back to school unless someone else pays for it. Lastly, the classroom is not real life. Every company has a different feel and style and you’ll have to adapt accordingly. Almost nothing you had on a test will be applicable to the real world. However, in contrast, the relationship skills and work ethic you develop in graduate school are very applicable. You develop both by going outside the standard curriculum.

This latter point is of particular interest, as I’m seeing many students shy away from the more difficult classes and projects. This is a shame as it’s these projects that teach you the ropes of world and I don’t just mean academically. It’s the harder classes and projects that teach you how to work in teams, handle different personalities, and push you to think outside the box. These are the elements of real life. Students are doing themselves a disservice by trying to take the easy way out. If there was any overarching lesson I learned in graduate school, this would be it. 

Is it clear why I went to grad school? No. Did I get everything I needed out of the experience? 80/20. Do I regret my decision? Only when the bill comes. For people thinking about heading to grad school, it’s important you keep your expectations in check. Additionally, as much as you want to live in the now, think about what this degree is going to do for your future. Also, if you do pursue, get the most possible out of it – challenge yourself. You’re not just paying for a piece of paper, you’re paying for the preparation to be the best employee you can be. You need to push yourself to learn material that isn’t comfortable and work with people you don’t like. If you don’t, the real world can be very cruel.

At the end of the day, I’m glad I went to graduate school. Not only did I gain confidence in my abilities, but I went on to do some pretty amazing things. The pretty diploma looks nice hanging, too.