Welcome to Everything But The Bagel, a weekly space to make you feel a little less stressed, and a little more grounded, just with writing instead of cream cheese. By diving deeper into the reality of life as a Trojan, Everything But The Bagel will help you get through the ups and downs of your college experience. Through relatable anecdotes, interviews, and my curated edit of recommendations, this newsletter will remind you that you are at this school for a reason, further helping you make the most of your time at ‘SC. Now let’s get started.

Dear Beautiful, Imperfect, Intelligent Humans,

Happy Wednesday. I’m so glad you’re back.

Today I want to dive into an idea that has continued to play an important role in my life since the start of my USC career. Growing up I attended a rigorous private school that taught an annoyingly-traditional curriculum centered around STEM courses. In other words, if you weren’t good with numbers, cosine, or the periodic table, which I was not, you found yourself feeling worthless. I can remember having to work twice as long on a calculus equation to fully understand the concept and apply it on the test. Notwithstanding my first shaky report card in middle school, I seemed to be much happier on a day to day basis relative to my friends who were getting straight A’s. And I can assure you, my learning challenges did not make life a walk in the park.

Society instills the importance of IQ in each and every one of us starting at a young age. Aspiring to break the boundaries of your academic success is great, but this cultural value has reached a point where such ambition becomes a source of stress and anxiety for students alike. Especially as teens are faced with what has become the daunting college process, making the effort to spend quality time with one another starts to fall low on our priority lists as the stress of a double spaced vs. single spaced paper soars to the top.

Now, you may be thinking that I am some type of spiritual lunatic. But hear me out for a second. College is a time to grow, to learn, to try, to fail and then try again. Above all, it’s a time to return to yourself, your priorities and tune into where you want to go in life. As I am sure all of you know, life as a trojan can be stressful with tight deadlines, campus involvement and internship applications. That is why surrounding yourself with people who lift you up with positive energy and encouragement couldn’t be more important.

What do I mean by good energy? Research has continued to prove that the energy of those in our inner circle have a direct correlation with our mental and physical wellbeing. In the words of Chief Medical Officer Doug Nemecek, "sharing that time to have a meaningful interaction and a meaningful conversation, to share our lives with others, is important to help us mitigate and minimize loneliness."

Growing up, my mom always reminded me that when it came to friends, it was quality over quantity. In today’s media landscape, cultivating meaningful bonds that extend beyond a social media comment can be challenging. But the importance of being surrounded by good people, people who will drop anything to help you, people who respect you, love you, want the best for you, and make you want to do better––if you work to have those people surrounding you, getting the A won’t be nearly as hard. Not only will you be more motivated and focused, but you will find your soul ignited which will undoubtedly be reflected inside and outside the classroom.

So while social media makes it seem like some of us have perfectly organized and established social circles, I invite you to focus on the quality of your relationships rather than the quantity. I challenge you to show up and invest in those relationships that make you feel good about yourself. Text a friend that you have been meaning to catch up with, check in on a peer who seems down in your lecture. Hold your friends accountable, be comforting, and go the extra mile––because it really is the little things.

Wishing you all a week full of connection, good energy, and laughter––lots of laughter.

- Ella

Now here’s some of my favorite things from this week:

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Rather than adapting to the energy in the room, influence the energy in the room.” -Anthony McClain, Entrepreneur from Chicago

The first time I heard this quote, it spoke to me in a remarkable way. As a kid, dancing was my thing. With competition weekends that consisted of 14-hour days with back-to-back performances, energy was not to be taken for granted. After hearing this quote from my mentor Anthony McClain, I took it upon myself to lift the spirit of the team, making sure that we could pull out expressive facial expressions for our 12th and final set of the day. While this may seem like a surface level example, I continue to apply this quote in the classroom, out and about, and everywhere in between. When energy in a place is low, instead of sinking to that level, try to bring everyone around you up to where you are! It will make you and those around you grateful and happier at any given moment.

DIGEST OF THE WEEK

A podcast episode that I listened to this week really stuck with me. All about falling in love with the beauty of the process instead of the desired end result, Shetty takes a unique approach when tackling a topic that applies to all of us: acting on our dreams and making s&%^ happen. Click here to listen.

SOMETHING I AM WORKING ON THIS WEEK

This week I am focusing on addressing some difficult situations and circumstances that life has thrown my way. In the past, I have resorted to dwelling on situations that I deem out of my control, obsessing over how awful and nauseating they are. Does “of course this would happen to me” ring a bell? Yeah, I know. But instead of investing all of my energy into a negative place, I could try accepting the circumstances for what they are, finding a way to move onwards and upwards. This week I invite you to take something bothering you, something that may seem out of your control, and make the best of the situation rather than dwelling on it. Don’t know how to start? Write down (like on pen and paper) three specific ways you can take control of the situation. As always, reach out and let me know how it is going for you!

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Every week, I welcome any questions or concerns you may have that could spark discussion/ bring awareness to our community. Just remember: No question is a dumb one.

Write to me here:

Twitter: ellakatz20

Instagram: ellaakatz