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 (remote) 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.


Dear Beautiful, Imperfect, Intelligent Humans,

Happy middle of the week and middle of October. It baffles me how time continues to somehow fly by, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Even during a time when we aren’t exactly having fun.

I have to admit that as a kid, I was always more of a mac and cheese girl than an ice cream or chicken tenders fan (Annie’s white shells, always) although I have definitely had my fair share of greasy pepperoni pizza. But in my opinion, there is nothing worse than ordering a pizza for you and your friends to share, only to find that you so-called “friends” take three slices for themselves leaving you with a cold, soggy piece that has a subpar ratio of marinara to mozzarella. It’s the worst.

But this disproportionate pizza analogy is relevant to more than just pepperoni: you are left with a similar feeling when you give too much of your time, energy (or pizza slices)to your work and friends rather than taking care of yourself.

While it may sound counterintuitive, one of the most consequential realities brought by this pandemic is the lack of boundaries. While there are some definite upsides to this new normal like not having a commute or being able to workout and almost immediately make it to office hours, it is easy to forget about the ramifications of a life lacking boundaries. If you are a frequent bageler, this is nothing new –– I often address the challenging realities brought on by COVID-19 in my column.

Recently, however, I have been struggling with spreading myself too thin, which I think has much more to do with this lack of boundaries than I would like to admit. I have been overcommitting myself in every sense of the word. And it has started to take an unavoidable and significant toll on my life.

While it doesn’t feel like one, the desire to spread yourself thin says something positive about your life. You have many abilities, interests, passions and people you care about –– and that in of itself is something to be proud of. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Spreading yourself too thin can lead to burnout, fatigue, and stress.

You see, society over-values productivity. People always worry about not doing enough, about being lazy, unmotivated or, even worse, unintentional. We invest in planners and productivity journals. We value to-do lists and completing the most before our heads hit the pillow at night. But when productivity is over-valued, it can take reverse action, depleting us and leading us to experience ultimate exhaustion.

Last semester, I was simply doing too much. I was writing my column, anchoring Annenberg TV News, organizing sisterhood events for my sorority, copy editing a student-run magazine and hosting a podcast –– all while trying to keep good grades, maintain my long distance relationship, socialize like a normal college sophomore and keep my mental sanity intact. Come the weekend, I would find myself completely exhausted. Catch up with my sister over FaceTime? Can’t, too tired. Dinner and a night out with friends? Forget about it.

I looked up and started to realize that this wasn’t the life I wanted to be living – actually, it was far from it. I didn’t have time to nurture the relationships and passions that I genuinely cared about. Experiences, people and places were passing me by, and coming to terms with this reality made me even more agitated.

Sometimes when our wheels are turning with ideas, content, ambition and drive, we end up over-exerting ourselves in too many areas of our lives. But when you think about your life like a pie (or a pizza), you only have so much energy, or so many slices, to go around –– a few to the people around you, some to your work, both academic and personal, and finally a piece or two to your personal passions. But when you over-allocate yourself to different areas of your life, there is less energy to go around–– arguably not enough. So you end up giving less in each area.

But it is only rational that we over-extend ourselves to plans, commitments and people. From a young age we have been taught to romanticize the overflowing resume and a busy schedule.

But don’t you want to give 100% of yourself to everything that you do? Don’t you want to be present and intentional in your activities, your relationships and your life?

Last year I wasn’t present. Wherever I was, whoever I was with, I was always focused on the next thing, the next step, or the next destination, only to realize that I was completely blind to the present moment.

So maybe you are feeling some of these things. Maybe you understand where I am coming from, but you are not sure where to go from here.

This is what works for me:

  1. Get a piece of paper and a pen.
  2. Write the following question at the top of the page: “What fills my cup?”
  3. Write bullet points of people, places and passions that fill your cup. That you genuinely care about. *Not what you think you should care about or what your parents want you to be doing, but what matters to YOU.
  4. Write out the ballpark percentages that these people/passions/places require for their full effect. Make sure that all of the percentages add to 100 (so that you aren’t overcommitting.) If the percentage exceeds 100% consider deleting some of the bullets, or rearranging their percentage values.
  5. Store the piece of paper for safe keeping and pull it out when you feel overwhelmed.

While it can be scary to back out of commitments, press pause on a project or have fewer bullet points on your resume, life is simply too short to be living according to anyone’s values besides your own. And quality over quantity.

Plus, no one wants a small slice of pizza.

Wishing you all a week full of narrowing down, quality time, and laughter––lots of laughter

-Ella

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

Quote of the Week:
“I knew I didn’t want my life to start at the end of the day when I left the office.”

Quote Analysis

In the spirit of talking about genuine priorities and a values-driven schedule, creating a life that you don’t need to escape from is essential to our success and happiness. The work should be fun, your friends should be your number one fans and you should be living your life the way YOU want to live it. Because it is a choice. It’s your choice. So choose.

Digest of the Week

“Unfortunately today, much of the culture surrounding food is rooted in shame, judgment and worry. Rather than leaning into the joy it brings -- and the meaning and belonging it holds -- humans have been taught to use it as a weapon against themselves and sometimes against each other.”

This brilliant weekly newsletter hones in on the power of food, looking at food as fuel, sustenance, and something to be enjoyed. “Boom” is a weekly newsletter that will come into your inbox with recipes, op eds, aesthetics and inspiring quotes. And it’s a plus that the woman behind the madness happens to be one of my dear friends, Mia. Subscribe to start cultivating a healthier, happier and more holistic relationship with food.

Something I am working on this week :

Ignoring my “What If” Brain.

When I am taking a risk, whether it be personal or professional, my mind likes to revert to “what if” mode. What if I fail? What if I embarrass myself? What if people don’t agree with me or my idea? The list goes on. But I recently had a groundbreaking epiphany: what if I used these “what if” thoughts to help me instead of hurt me? If I used my conscious, rational mind to change my thoughts around. Instead of “what if I fail?” asking myself, “what if this is my million dollar idea?” Instead of “what if people don’t agree with me or think I’m stupid?” Asking “what if this idea enables me to connect with people in a refreshing and vulnerable way?” You get the gist. Try it out. Why not? What if this shift in mindset leads you to a more fulfilled and authentic life?

Question of the Week:

Every week, I welcome any questions or concerns you may have that could spark discussion/ bring awareness to our community. I will respond to the best of my ability, consulting outside scientific resources to answer them to the best of my ability. Just click here to ask your question! And just remember: No question is a dumb one. If you have it, I’m sure many members of our community have the same one!

Story Ideas? Questions? Need a Hug? Write to me here:

ellakatz@usc.edu on EMAIL

@srirachamayoenthusiast on INSTA

@ellakatz20 on TWITTER