GOING BACK TO DISNEY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE MY COLLEGE PROGRAM

Surprise, I went back to Disney World! I was just as shocked as you probably are. It’s been six months since I left and came back to Tennessee to finish. To be honest, I didn’t think this trip was going to happen. With everything going on at school I didn’t think I could. Thankfully, I was able to take a long weekend to visit the most magical place on earth for a much-needed break!

I’m not gonna lie, it was weird being back. In a lot of ways, it felt like I should still be working there. It was like I never left. Truthfully, a lot has changed since my college program ended. My first day was spent back in my home park – Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This day was special because I got to see so many friends that I’d been missing. The fun part was, most of them had no clue I was coming! It was so fun to surprise them and see their reaction (really glad they hadn’t forgotten about me, that would have been awkward). We walked around seeing as many people as possible at main entrance, watched the stunning Merry Menagerie, saw all the Christmas decorations, at Satou’li Canteen, rode the safari, and spent a chilly day re-connecting. It was definitely weird being there as just a guest and not someone who was on their day off. Whenever I heard someone ask a question, my instinct was to respond or say “happy birthday, princess” to little girls with birthday buttons on. Some things will always be engrained in me!

Besides feeling weird like I should be working, the first day was so good being able to see all of my old co-workers and friends again. I’ve missed seeing them every day! Even though a lot of people aren’t there anymore, I am really glad I got to see everyone who was. The only one who knew I was coming was my DCP twin, Emily, so it was also really fun surprising them. Plus, I got to see Chip and Dale in their dinosaur outfits with CHRISTMAS TOUCHES! How cute?!

The second day was a long one! We started off by hitting Epcot for some Food and Wine Festival goodies. I got the tropical mimosa, Twinnings pumpkin spice chai tea cocktail with caramel vodka, bacon and cheddar soup, and a teriyaki chicken bowl. Everything was DIVINE and it was fun being “of age” in Epcot and getting to experience more of the festival than I have in previous years. We also were very lucky to be able to visit my close friend, Chris, who we’d seen the day before but I was so glad I got to see again!

After a lap around the world, we decided to take a ride on the Skyliner. Luckily, another one of my dear friends from the program was working it so I got to squeeze in a hug before jumping in the gondola. This was the first time I got to go on Skyliner and I was super impressed! What a cool way to travel from park-to-park or resorts. When we got off at the next resort, we made a last-minute decision to jump on and head to Hollywood Studios! We had time to kill before we could go into the Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom and I had yet to see Batuu. So, off we went!

We got there, nabbed some FastPasses for Tower of Terror, and headed straight to Batuu. I’m no Star Wars fan, but it was super cool to see! Another one of Disney’s immersive lands done right. We even got to see Chewbacca and some Storm Troopers just walking around doing their thing! From there, we looked at all the Christmas decorations and took a walk through Toy Story Land. We headed to Sunset Blvd. for my first ever ride on Tower of Terror. Since I have a rather intense fear of elevators, this ride seemed like a nightmare! But, as a big fan of The Twilight Zone I decided I needed to finally take a ride. The theming was amazing!! I wasn’t a huge fan of the feeling of my brain hitting my skull with each drop, but it was fun. I don’t know if I’ll ride it again, but maybe if I take some ibuprofen ahead of time it’ll be better! It didn’t cure my fear of elevators though.

After that, it was time for the big event! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom. Most people who know me know that I LOVE Christmas. Yet I had never been to Disney World at Christmas time! This party shattered any expectations I had! It was AMAZING. From the minute walking in and seeing the Christmas tree on Main St. I was in awe. There were lights, decorations, and Christmas music at every turn! Not to mention, free cookies and hot chocolate! I dawned my Christmas ears and wreath earrings and was truly living my best life! How could I not be?

We started off with a ride on Small World (much to my dismay), then hit up a couple of cookie locations. We got to meet the seven dwarves, the hundred-acre woods friends in their adorable Christmas outfits, and it wouldn’t have been a Christmas party in Disney without stopping by and seeing the old boss! Took the wildest ride in the wilderness with no wait, ate lots of cookies, took lots of pictures, and by the end of it we were dragging ourselves to the bus to go home. It was a long one, but one of the best days!

13 consecutive hours, 3 parks, and 27,733 steps later we were filled with Christmas joy but also dead to the world. Not to mention, the next day we’d be taking that 12-hour drive back home! It was 1000% worth it and a trip that my soul needed. I needed a break from school craziness and work, and was ready to visit my second home! I really leaned into my enneagram 7-ness and took a trip on a whim that was the best. Reminds me I don’t have to make sure every moment is planned out!

Other than being over the moon about seeing friends and visiting the parks, the trip also reminded me how much I’d love to make my career at Disney. As I’ve been trying to figure out where I want to be post-grad in May and weighing my options, I’m leaning in and listening to where I need to be. Working for Disney and being able to make advertising magic would be a dream! More and more it seems like I’m being pointed that way. Wherever I do end up, whether it’s back at Disney or not, I will always make sure to keep the magic alive and spread joy in every circumstance.

All in all, it was a festive, magical trip! I’ve been back in school reality for one week and I’m already itching to go back. We’ll see how long that lasts! Maybe next time I’ll be returning as a cast member.

MERRY CHRISTMAS (it’s never too early to have festive spirit)

❤ / Bailey

SEEING THE FINISH LINE | THE FINAL YEAR

I registered for my last semester of college today…and I have no clue how to feel! I know I say this a lot, bu this year is just flying by. It seems like just yesterday I was moving to Orlando to do the Disney College program, but at this point I’ve been home for a longer amount of time than I was there. With all the senior year busy-ness and things to do, I haven’t gotten much time to sit down and write for myself (most of my writing energy is spent on my Writing for Radio, TV, & Film class), but in this moment I feel like I need to mentally process.

I’m almost done with college. I only have two classes required to graduate, but I have to maintain 15 credit hours for my scholarship so I registered for five classes next semester. I am stoked to have been asked to be a part of the National Student Advertising Competition team for next semester (plus the added bonus of it filling up some of those 15 credit hours) and working with what I’m sure will be an amazing group of students! Along with that, I’ll be taking Communication Law (probably the class that scares me the most, especially at 8 am), Practical Reasoning, Solving the Puzzle of Life, and Editing. Those classes and two exit exams are the only thing in the way of me and that fancy piece of paper that says I know things!

At this point, I’m having mixed feeling about graduating. I am SO excited to be going into a career field that I love and am so passionate about, but I also feel the ever-growing presence of adulthood looming over my shoulder. Not to mention, all of this comes with a whole lot of decisions to make within the next few months. Do I move somewhere bigger like Knoxville, Nashville, or Charlotte? Do I go back to Orlando and return to work for Disney? How many Disney Professional Internships do I want to apply for? Do I really want to go so far away from my family?

It’s a lot for a gal to think about!

I’m having to constantly remind myself that there is time to figure it all out. I need to make intentional space to relax and enjoy the fun things that come with being in college while I can. I won’t be able to get this time in my life back, so I need to really cherish it while I can! Go to club meetings, go on trips, say yes to hanging out with friends more often, and stop getting inside my own head!

The thing that brings me peace is knowing that God will put me right where I need to be. I’m leaning in and trying to listen hard as to just where God is telling me to be. If Disney is the move, doors will open, and if somewhere else is the path then I’ll follow. I’ve been so fortunate to already have so many amazing experiences and teachers in my life that have given me the tools to be successful. They will also always be there for me and I am so thankful for their influence in my life. I know the department of Media and Communication was exactly where I was supposed to be and I’ll always be tied to them no matter where I end up. Seriously, the best people are in that department! I couldn’t be dreaming this big and knowing I’m ready to take on the world without them.

Between school, working two jobs, and planning for the future, it’s been a busy season of life! I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon but I’m along for the ride and will keep pushing forward. I have been able to squeeze in some fun into senior year! My DCP twin, Emily, came to visit me and I gave her the grand tour of small town southern living. We carved pumpkins, watched Hocus Pocus, visited downtown Johnson City, went to the Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, and finished the weekend off with a stop at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Asheville before heading to the airport. Plus, many good food stops in between. What good East Tennessean would I be if I didn’t have her experience Pal’s? I went to Dollywood with my mom and sister to see the pumpkin lights and get in my missing fix of ride adrenaline, visited my grandparents for some much needed Mam-Maw home cooking, and spent to re-connecting with some friends I haven’t seen in a while.

It’s a complex season of life I’m in, but one that is reminding me to be present and thankful. I’m thankful for every opportunity I get to spend time with friends and family, thankful for my professors that believe in me and the great things I can do, and overall just thankful for each new day. While I’m trying to strike that balance between planning for the future and enjoying the now, I’m milking what I can out of this phase of life. It’s a busy one, but one I’m thankful for nonetheless.

I hope whatever season of life you may be in you’re able to find the joy and space to create some happiness!

❤ / Bail

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One Month In | The Fall Internship

I haven’t been the best at updating this blog on how my internship is going this semester, but I promise that’s because I’m busy working hard! It’s been a little over a month since I started working for Trinity Arts Center and I’ve really been enjoying it! Not only is it fun getting back into a community that I used to be so heavily involved with, but it’s been nice re-connecting with people and getting to use my new found passions to help a place I owe a lot of who I am to.

So, what have I been up to? My focus has been on creating content for Instagram and Facebook that is informative, engaging, and helps build a personality to Trinity Arts Center. I’ve been doing this through posting faculty and student highlights to help people get to know who exactly is a part of the arts center. It makes it easier for people to connect to an online presence when they realize there are actual people behind it!

We’ve also been boosting engagement through the number of tags and followers we are getting by running a contest for students and faculty. Each week, they are challenged to take pictures at the arts center and tag us for the chance to win free snacks and drinks. Nothing motivates a bunch of students like free food! We’ve had a really great turnout so far with one class even making shirts with their faces on it to give their instructor for her birthday and posting a video of her reaction. I could actually hear someone say “this HAS to win the contest this week” in the background!

There’s definitely been discouraging times when we haven’t got the response to certain posts that I thought would do well. It’s times like that I have been investigating though and realizing that maybe it’s the time or day that’s effecting. For Trinity’s pages, it seems like Friday is getting the lowest engagement in our Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posting schedule. With Instagram’s algorithm continuously changing it has been pushing me towards digging deeper into the analytics of it all.

I’m excited to see what we can do over the next couple of months! The arts center’s annual winter dance production will be happening and I am already brainstorming fun ways to promote that on social media. It’s been a great learning experience to get hands in on social media. It’s something I’ve always wanted to get more into, so I’m pumped with this opportunity!

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Officially got added to website with a super nice bio written by the owner!

❤ / Bailey

A Life Update | The Final Year

So, it’s been a little bit of time since I’ve gotten the chance to sit down and write for myself. Senior year is no joke! I went into it with a rather large senioritis complex that was immediately shot down when I had to write a 15-page paper within the first week. Yeah, not what I expected. In order to help me chronicle my senior year (and force me to make more time to write for myself) I want to start somewhat of a series entitled “The Final Year.” It will be something I can look back on and also hopefully help others as they enter their final year of college & all the stress that comes with it.

Coming back to school was a lot weirder than I expected. I put a lot of pressure on going back to school, hoping it would make the transition home from Disney a little easier. What I didn’t think about was how weird it would feel to be back on campus. I low-key felt like a Freshman when I was walking around and re-associating myself with ETSU. It wasn’t until I started hanging out with friends and getting to know my classmates better that I actually began returning to a semi-normal human being.

Things have been overwhelming as I tried to balance classes, working two jobs, dog sitting, and trying to force myself out of the funk I’d been in all summer. Some of the classes I thought would be fun electives to take were turning out to be WAY more busywork than my senioritis expected. In the same sphere, I am loving my capstone class this semester. We’re getting hands-on experience working with clients and I have two of the best professors I could have hoped for co-teaching the class. When I found that out, I was SO excited!

I’m finally finding my rhythm again and am starting to feel more normal. The post-DCP depression also seems to be lowering its toll on my life. I still get feelings of sadness and missing my favorite place on earth and all my friends who are now scattered across the country, but Johnson City is starting to feel more like home again. I’m hanging out with friends more and forcing myself to get out and stop sitting in my room watching DCP vlogs all evening.

Other than post-DCP depression, my time at Disney has also given me a renewed sense of passion in what I’m doing. I actually joined my department’s club that I’d been meaning to join since Freshman year, am an account executive for my group’s capstone project, and overall am thinking more and more about where my niche and desire to be is in the world of Advertising, Public Relations, & Communications. I’m also considering grad school, which if you could tell freshman me that I would have laughed right in your face. By the end of the semester I may be singing a different tune, but it’s something I’m looking into as a possibility for after May.

Some other fun life updates:

  • I got new glasses & have actually worn them on a consistent basis. Apparently, what normal people could see at 100 ft away I have to be 20 ft or close to see. Whoops! So, sorry if I’ve squinted at you from a distance recently. It’s not that I was judging you, I just couldn’t see who was there!
  • I still miss Disney. I’m still hoping to return to work for Disney. I’ve been looking into Professional Internships for post-grad life, but I need to take a pause from overthinking it all and try to enjoy this semester and the time I have left before applications open in January.
  • Along with working at First Christian Church again, I have accepted a position with Trinity Arts Center helping create and manage social media content! I have a lot of love for TAC as it was my second home where I danced six days a week for eight years of my life. It’s really refreshing to be back and in a new way utilizing what I’m studying! Super grateful for the opportunity!!
  • One of my best friends, also known as my DCP twin, Emily is coming to visit me in my hometown next weekend!! I’m so excited to show her around small town, Southern USA and just be able to spend time with her before she moves back to Australia in January.
  • I’m back on that pet sitting grind so I’ve gotten to hang out with a bunch of adorable furry friends!
  • I may or may not have a return trip in the works to hit up a Disney Christmas Party…fingers crossed!!
  • Despite the animosity I have towards the impact it’s had on my tuition, I finally went to an ETSU football game! Figured so much of my money went into building that stadium I should at least sit in it once.
  • I’ve started learning how to cook like a real adult! If you know me, you’ll know this is quite the accomplishment as I usually burn scrambled eggs. Shout to Hello Fresh for making it super easy & fun!

Coming home from Disney was a way bigger challenge than I’d expected. While I’ve been struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, chronic illness, and general adjusting, I think I’m finally getting to a place of normality again. I’m discovering new passions, reviving friendships, and finding ways to help my mental health. I hope that whether you’re facing a similar season of challenges, you see a light at the end that is pushing you towards something better!

❤ / Bail

Just the Beginning | The Fall Internship

Hello, friends! Part of what I’ll be writing about for the next few months, along with my usual content on this blog, will be discussing my fall semester internship. I’m super excited to be back on campus in school this semester and am equally happy to be doing an internship. I did an internship with the Disney College Program last semester with merchandise, but am excited to intern in a new capacity with a company back at home.

So, what will I be doing? I was approached by the owner of Trinity Arts Center in Johnson City (I am actually an alum of their dance program) and asked if I’d be interested in working with them on some social media and photography. This is a company that I considered my second home for many years, so I immediately said yes at the option to be around again.

It’s weird going back to somewhere you haven’t been in a long time, especially where you spent the majority of your teenage free time. However, I think it will make me even more passionate about what I’m doing. It’s easy for me to feel really connected with a company and want to share their story. Trinity Arts Center is a music, dance, and visual arts school. It is “a community of Christian artists using their talents to teach, perform, and connect.”

I met with the owner and we came up with some goals that he wanted to reach with their social media and ideas I had on increasing their reach and engagement. Some of the main goals were:

  1. Celebrate our people. Highlighting teachers, students, and alumni of Trinity Arts Center.
  2. Build credibility in what we do. Show the community that everyone at Trinity is super knowledgable about their art forms.
  3. Advertise events & provide good information. There are annual shows, recitals, and other community events that we want to make people more aware of and sharing with their friends.
  4. Overall, build a community presence online.

Right now, the goal is posting three times a week on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll be tracking engagement and analytics to see what’s working and determine what can be done differently. If things are going well, maybe branching out into Twitter and other social media platforms could be in the mix. I will be taking pictures for posts, writing captions, and tracking interaction with every post. There is a really big Disney Instagram community that I loved getting involved with last semester, so I’m excited to be taking a deeper social media dive from a company standpoint.

Here’s to this semester and all that will be learned! Oh, and follow @trinityartscenter on Instagram!!

❤ / Bailey

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome & Me

It’s Septemeber and you know what that means? FALL. Sweaters, Halloween decorations, leaves, cozy candles, and boots are creeping their way in. Along with fall, September also rings in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month, as well as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Something I didn’t even realize had a month of its own until not too long ago. Some of you may then be thinking, what is PCOS and why should it have its own awareness month? That’s why. Not that many people know about it yet it affects 1 in 10 women…including me! So, what is it?

The exact cause is unknown, but it is considered a hormonal problem. Genetics and environmental factors are believed to be involved in the development of PCOS. It is a leading cause of female infertility and is responsible for a number of symptoms that can affect the body physically and emotionally.

Still confused? Don’t worry, so am I! Basically, PCOS is a hormonal disorder that is linked to a wide variety of symptoms from irregular periods and weight gain to infertility and severe anxiety and depression. The symptoms appear differently and in various severities in everyone affected. For me, it started with my period going MIA for no reason. When I went to the doctor and they asked when my last period was and I said “six months ago” they immediately raised a concern and said I needed to visit an OBGYN.

So, off to the OBGYN, I went. We discussed the fact that I hadn’t had a period for quite some time, talked about some other symptoms, and without even having test results, my OBGYN said she was 99% sure that I had PCOS. We did some blood work to check hormone and insulin levels and I was prescribed birth control to hopefully bring my period out of hiding. Turns out, my insulin resistance levels were sky high, so they also started me on Metformin (a typical medicine used for diabetes) to help those numbers get down. There also had to be some real discussions about fertility. At 18 years old, I was told that I likely won’t be able to have children passed the age of 30 and will likely need medical assistance in order to conceive. Fertility wasn’t really a concern in my life at that point, but now it has to be and is always on my mind. I know there are many other options and that God will give me the gift of children when/if I am meant to have it, but it’s still something that is always in the back of my mind.

I think what bothers me the most about PCOS is the fact that even though it affects 1 in 10 women, hardly anyone knows about it. There also is no for sure known cause or cure. Is it manageable, yes? I’m thankful for that. I do hope that there comes a day where there is a cure. That can’t be achieved with more awareness, funding, and research. If you feel so inclined, you can visit https://www.pcosaa.org/ for more info or donate.

I am a part of the 1 in 10 with PCOS.

❤ / Bailey

The Concert That Saved Me This Summer | Judah & the Lion: Pep Talks World Tour

If you know me, you’ll likely know that I love concerts. I always have! It was something that my family & I would do together, go to Charlotte and see a concert together. Even when I was running a fever & going through a stretch os non-stop sinus infections, I still went to a Twenty One Pilots concert because I love them so much, even in a fever-induced delusional state. But the concert I went to this summer meant the most to me. Judah & the Lion’s album Pep Talks saved me this summer.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know that my transition home from the Disney College Program has been far less than magical. I’ve struggled daily with missing my friends, feeling overwhelmingly lonely back at home, and fitting back into the places I left behind. Coupled with continuous health problems (thanks, IBS) and increased anxiety, it made for a less than happy summer. The one thing I was looking forward to was this concert.

The moment I found out Judah & the Lion was bringing their tour to Charlotte, I pestered my dad about getting tickets on the daily. I would text him about it, send him articles about the band, and whisper their name through the vents in our house like a creepy reminder. You’d think this may make him less likely to want to get them, but boy did he pull through! As a 21st birthday present, he got us amazing seats to the show. We were 10 rows back and smack in the middle. THANKS AGAIN, DAD!

Now, why was this concert so important to me? You may be thinking, it’s just a band! Well, their album literally saved my summer. Pep Talks is a raw and real album written by lead singer, Judah Akers, about the time in his life where he felt the loneliness. He talks about the real struggles he had growing up and how it has effected in adulthood to put him in the lonely place that he was, despite being surrounded by friends and family. I’ve never connected with an album more than I did with this season of life I’m in and Pep Talks. Judah comes across as this happy, goofy, fun-loving guy but on the inside is filled with a sense of overwhelming loneliness and dwelling on his past troubles. And that’s how I feel I’ve been this summer. In Disney, I was filled with so much joy that I wanted to keep that facade (it became a facade and not real when I left) up when on the inside I feel lonelier than I’ve ever felt. I’ve never had something so perfectly describe who I am, especially when dealing with negative emotions.

Well finally, some honesty
I’m not that great transparently
It’s been a few years since I’ve felt OK
But I’m just like a pro not showing it on my face yeah
I’m an ocean now, peaceful on the out
But the deeper I go down, I’m discovering all the things
My brain has let sink below
Eventually coming up up like a cyclone
So my first step to recovery, a couple deep breaths
And then hear me speak
I’m not OK, I’m not OK
Come get my pain, come get my pain

– from the song i’m ok. featured on Judah & the Lion’s album Pep Talks.

As soon as the show started, I immediately began to tear up. I’ve loved this band for years, but this album, in particular, was just really special to me. To hear it being performed live is just an experience that I will never forget. Hearing such honest and real words being performed that match how I’m feeling and am never really able to get it is honestly transformative.

Throughout the whole show, Judah kept talking about the meaning behind the album. He referred to the audience as a family and spread a message of hope like I’ve never heard before. Singing and dancing along, even in the pouring rain, to the lyrics “No matter how bad all this gets / I can’t stop this voice in my head / This voice in my head says / We’re gonna be alright / We’re gonna be alright” there were definitely tears mixing with the rain on my face.

If you’ve ever questioned the importance of music, let this prove it to you. Thank you, Judah & the Lion for the album that continuously pulls me through this lonely season. And, thank you, dad, for the best birthday present!

❤ / Bail

P.S. – If you’ve never been to the Metro Credit Union Amphitheater in Charlotte, HIGHLY recommend. My all-time favorite venue.