sarahgrand

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Pizza Rustica

I’m going to be making and sharing my grandma’s Italian dishes on my blog. Most recently I made Pizza Rustica for Christmas (though it’s traditionally an Easter pie). I used this recipe for the dish, and will include my slightly modified version below as well.

Ingredients: 

For the crust:

  • 1 envelope (1/4 Oz. Size) Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 3-¼ cups Flour
  • 1-½ Tablespoon Butter
  • ⅛ teaspoons Salt
  • ⅛ teaspoons Pepper

For the filling:

  • 1 pound Italian Mild Sausage, Ground
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • 2 pounds Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 12 ounces, weight Mozzarella Cheese Diced
  • ⅛ teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 6 whole Eggs
  • ¼ pounds Prosciutto Di Parma Chopped, Diced
  • ⅓ pounds Pepperoni, Diced
  • ⅓ pounds Genoa Salami, Diced
  • ½ pounds Ham — Regular Boiled Deli Ham, Diced
  • ⅛ cups Parmesan Cheese, Grated
  • ⅛ cups Romano Cheese, Grated
  • ½ pounds Capicola, Diced

For the egg wash:

  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Water

Directions:

In a measuring cup, mix yeast and warm water.

Mix flour, butter, salt, pepper and yeast/water mixture until dough forms and is elastic and smooth.

Place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with a towel and allow it to rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in volume.

While dough is rising, over medium-high heat, brown the sausage in a frying pan with the water to render the fat. Drain and cool.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, and pepper. Add eggs one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition. Add cooled sausage, prosciutto, pepperoni, salami, ham, capicola and grated cheeses to ricotta mixture and mix well.

When dough has risen, cut into 2 equal pieces (or 4 pieces, if you want to make two smaller pies). Stretch one piece to fit into the bottom and up the sides of a greased pan. Reserve the other piece to make the top.

Preheat oven to 375F, and fill the lined pie with the ricotta and diced meat mixture. Stretch second piece of dough and place over the filling, pressing the edges closed. Be careful not to tear the dough. The top edges must be sealed. Make 4 slits in the dough for steam to escape.

Combine the egg wash ingredients in a bowl and gently beat to combine. Brush the crust with the egg wash to give it a glossy finish.

Bake for an hour and a half until crust is nice and golden brown. Once done, remove pie from oven and let it set before slicing.

HOW I DID ON MY YEARLY GOALS

Hi guys! So on 3/31/17, I wrote a post called “Personal Goals for the Next Year.” Now that it’s actually a couple months past 3/31/18, I can check how I fared on these. I actually really liked this exercise, so I’m going to make a new yearly goal list (prob will be the next post after this). So, here it goes!

1. Finish designing NYC poster – Totally completed. Here’s how the two “main” posters came out (but I made a bunch of variation posters as well):

2. Submit NYC poster to contest – I did submit my poster to an MTA Arts & Design contest, but I never heard back. I didn’t pursue it further because shortly after submitting the poster, I realized that it actually wasn’t really a priority for me to have my poster in the subway (though it obviously would be cool). I’m more excited about selling my artwork myself and starting a business around it, so I’d rather spend my energy on that.

3. Fabricate NYC poster – Done! I got my NYC posters printed by O’Neil Printing in Phoenix, AZ. I also ended up designing and printing two other posters this year (see pics below). These other posters were printed by Palmetto Digital Trade Source in Greenville, SC. I also printed a number of smaller posters myself on my personal printer.

4. Sell NYC poster – My NYC posters (including the smaller posters and the two non-NYC posters) are currently up for sale on my Etsy. So far, I’ve made only 13 sales on my Etsy. Next weekend, I’m planning on setting up a table in Central Park and trying to sell my posters out in public (there are certain areas of the park where you can sell artwork without a permit). I’m excited about it, but have no idea what to expect. I’ll keep you posted!

5. Design and look into fabricating Fruits! notebooks – I actually did look into this. I even exchanged emails with a notebook fabricator in Taiwan and got quotes on everything. To put it simply, fabricating these notebooks would be a big investment for me. Moreover, I’d have to put in an order of 8,000 notebooks minimum for the factory to even consider producing them. I think I need to worry about selling my NYC posters first and then I can revisit this!

6. Make a band poster – This is more-or-less completed. I designed the below poster for one of my favorite bands, STRFKR. I just need to do some touch-ups on this (this is not the final version) and then actually send it to the band. I can do a separate post on how that turns out.

7. Re-design and clean up my design website!! – I didn’t do this. But, kind of like Goal 2 (submit NYC poster to contest), I realized this goal wasn’t really a big priority for me as the year went on. While my site could use some cleanup, I think it’s serving its purposes for now, and it would be a better use of my time to focus on improving my Etsy for now.

8. Move to NYC (I’m commuting to work from NJ now) – Done! I moved into my apartment on the Upper East Side last July 1st and just re-signed my lease for another year. Woohoo!

9. Go on a New Mexico roadtrip! – Done! My roommate Lauren and I went to New Mexico in October 2017. My boyfriend was actually doing a cross-country motorcycle trip at the same time and went out of his way to meet us there too! So much fun…I want to go back!

10. Start planning my trip to Thailand – This didn’t happen, but like a couple of my other goals on the list, this lost priority as the year went on. While Thailand is beautiful and I’d love to go one day, there are other parts of the world (and even other parts of the US) I think I want to explore first.

11. GROW LONG HAIR – I am (very) slowly but surely making progress on this. I definitely wouldn’t say my hair is long, but I think it officially transitioned from being “short” to “medium length” this year (which is a big deal for me since my hair grows so freaking slowly!). I also recently start taking better care of my hair, so ideally it will grow more in the next year than it has in this past one.

Overall, I actually think I did pretty good on my goals this year! I’ll type up my next set of goals later this week.

My Mom’s Tomato Sauce Recipe

Man, it’s been so long since I posted on here! TBH I only really decided to dust off the old blog today because I wanted my mom’s tomato sauce recipe somewhere on the internet. But now that I’m actually on here, I’m realizing that I actually kind of miss this. So, expect another post from me kinda soon.

The recipe is essentially in the above photo, but let me type it out here as well:

  1. Put 4-5 cloves of garlic and some olive oil in a pan
  2. Add a “little can” of tomato paste (please note, literally nothing in this recipe is exact lol)
  3. Put it on low heat and let it all melt together (making sure the tomato paste isn’t burning…otherwise you’ll get little black specs in your sauce)
  4. Once that’s all melted, add a touch of salt and 2-3 tablespoons of sugar
  5. Also add some dry or fresh basil leaves if you have them (but no biggie if you don’t)
  6. Add a big can of tomato puree, a little can of tomato sauce, and some extra water to the pan
  7. Then, let it all cook “for a while”

That, my friends, is the recipe! Not super exact, but I tried making it myself and it came out good, so I can vouch for it (though it didn’t come out as good as my mom’s). Happy MDW!

MY PICKS!! (New Interior Design Obsession)

I moved to the city this past weekend! I’ve lived on my own before, but all the other times, I was either too young or the living situation was too temporary for me to really care much about how the place looked. Now that I’m older and could stay at my new apartment for a few years, I put some thought into the design. Today I’m going to share some photos of my new bedroom and some of my other interior design picks. I CAN NOT WAIT until I get to decorate a whole house…my place is going to be so cool and funky!

So here’s my new room:



One of my favorite parts of my new room is the sky bedding. I got it from Urban Outfitters. I also considered the poppy bedding and forrest bedding shown below (also from UO). I sort of want to buy the poppy and forrest bedding and save them for my future home, but that seems really extra of me, so I’ll restrain myself!



Another favorite part of my new room is the funky colorful carpet! I got it from Soho Artists and Fleas. The seller had a bunch of other carpets, but the only other one I really loved was the one in the second image below. These carpets are as vibrant and neon as they look. Like the other beddings, I’m sort of tempted to get the second carpet for my future home, but again, that would be really extra of me!


In terms of wall art, I have a poster I made myself (above my desk) and also the “Pretty Much Everything” Draplin poster in multi-color, shown below. I actually think I like the orange one even more (I’ve been on a serious orange kick lately…) but it’s out of stock right now. The multi one goes better with my room anyways!


Here’s another Draplin poster I really like. I’m not going to get this for my room, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

I do, however, think I’m going to get this Father John Misty “Fear Fun” poster for my room when it comes back in stock (I emailed Sub Pop Records and they said they’re bringing this poster back, which is surprising considering this album came out 5 years ago…but good news for me!). The artist behind this album art is Dima Drjuchin. I love it!

I’m trying to keep my new room minimal and clean, so once I get the Father John Misty poster, I think I’ll be set. But in my future home, I want a whole wall COVERED in posters and art. Below are some pieces I really like. Some are album covers, some are magazine covers, and some are paintings, but what they all have in common is I LOVE THEM (and think they could work as wall art even though they’re not necessarily “meant” for that). The first image is a Deerhunter album cover. I don’t like the skull in the eye, but I do love the color (again, orange kick), and the overall vibe. I think it would look awesome next to the blue Hideki Inaba piece below it! (Please note: I probably could never afford a lot of these pieces, but a girl can dream).


More pieces I like…first is by Takashi Murakami. Second and third are magazine covers by Studio Feixen. Fourth is a magazine cover by Jessica Svendsen. Fifth is a magazine cover by Hideki Inaba. Last image in this set is a painting by Ralph Humphrey.






I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but I’ve been super into inkblots lately. The first image below is actually from a psychology site, but I would literally have something like this on my wall. The images below that seem like they must have been inspired by inkblot tests (from the symmetry and stuff). The second piece is from Urban Outfitters. The third and fourth images are of pieces from Bethenny Frankel’s apartment (I first saw them in Real Housewives lol). They’re her daughter’s artwork “elevated” by artist Paul Morris.




I also think having some gradient art would be cool too. Not these things below, but something inspired by them.


Oh love these of course too! These are from the camouflage series by Andy Warhol.


In terms of furniture–I usually just like really simple, plain furniture, but these funky pieces from ABC Carpet are really cool. I especially like the green one. They come in all different sizes and shapes but they’re super expensive unfortunately!


I hate clutter and I’m not a big fan of unnecessary accessories, but these gummy bear lights are pretty cool not gonna lie…

So that’s all for now! I’m always looking for new unique finds so I’ll add more picks as I find them!

Five Year Goals

Back in March, I made a list of goals for the year and posted it on this blog. As discussed in my last post, I have been making good progress on these! I think part of the reason I am making real progress is because I narrowed down and documented everything I wanted to accomplish for the year. I made sure my goals were realistic and attainable, yet still accomplishments. Because of the success of my one-year goal list, I decided to make a five-year goal list for the blog as well.

Five Year Goal List: 

  1. Live somewhere besides New York or New Jersey for an extended period of time
  2. Travel for a consecutive period of more than 2 weeks
  3. Go to Bonnaroo and camp out (Silly, but this is a goal for me and my friend! We want to go)
  4. Make “Sarah Grand” a real business (or at least really try to)
  5. Fall in love (This sounds corny, but I have to be honest here. I don’t care if I’m married or not in five years, but I hope I at least fall in love sometime during this period. Not sure if this qualifies as a “goal” though, because it’s sort of out of my control, unlike the four others)

WILL FOLLOW UP IN 2022.

Why I’ve Kind of Been Neglecting the Blog Lately

Hello everyone! So, I have a bunch of ideas for things to write about for the blog, but I haven’t posted in a few weeks. I usually think the excuse “I don’t have enough time” is BS, but this time, it’s really true! I just haven’t had enough time to write lately. But I plan on blogging more regularly again in a few weeks.

I had a lot of life changes in the last month. I left my first job out of college to do a complete industry change–I went from working in cost estimating at a huge construction company to working in advertising at a finance startup. I can explain a bit about why I did the industry change in a future post. I also moved out of my apartment in Queens last month and now am commuting to Manhattan from New Jersey. So far, everything is really good and I love my new job and living at home again! But, between the new job and the commuting, I have A LOT less free time on my hands! And, during the little free time that I have had in the last few weeks, I’ve been working on this logo project. Guys, designing logos is WAY HARDER THAN IT LOOKS!

Today, I plan on finishing up that logo, and I’ll hopefully get it posted up on the design website this weekend. After that, I have a whole list of other design projects to get to, which will probably take precedence over the blog. In any case, once everything is totally settled and get into the right groove, I should be posting on here more regularly. Let me know if you have any ideas for things to write about, or any advice questions that I can address on here. Thanks!

Movie Soundtracks & Scores I Like

One of my favorite sources of new music is FILM! Today I will be sharing some of my favorite movie soundtracks and scores. I’ve only included my top favorites here, but of course there are tons of other soundtracks, scores, and individual songs from movies that I really love. Maybe I’ll include them in a future post. I’m always on the lookout for new music, so let me know your favorites too and I’ll check them out!

  1. Pride & Prejudice: This soundtrack was composed by Dario Marianelli and performed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the English Chamber Orchestra. It’s soooo good! Definitely reminds me of the English countryside. I was actually listening to this soundtrack while taking a walk in the park today and it was very picturesque.

  1. Amélie Soundtrack: Most songs from this soundtrack were composed by Yann Tiersen. I think this might be my all-time favorite movie soundtrack. Every song is amazing!! Check it out!

  1. Midnight in Paris Soundtrack: This soundtrack features various artists. I believe it was curated by Woody Allen, who wrote and directed the film, but I’m not 100% sure. I love this song which opens the movie:

  1. Up & Ratatouille Film Scores: Both of these film scores were composed by Michael Giacchino. What I love most about Pixar movies is how much emotion they evoke without dialogue. I think the music plays a big part in this. This one scene GETS ME EVERY TIME and the song goes perfectly with everything in it:

  1. A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack: This soundtrack was composed by Vince Guaraldi for the TV special. Even though it’s Christmas music, I enjoy listening to it all year round. My dad thinks many of these songs were inspired by Brazilian jazz. After listening more, I see what he means!

  1. Clueless Soundtrack: I love this movie, and the soundtrack is pretty awesome too! It features various artists and definitely gives off 90s vibes.

  1. Juno Soundtrack: Of course I like the Juno soundtrack! This soundtrack also features various artists. I just watched this movie two days ago for the first time since I saw it in theaters in 2007 and I forgot how good the soundtrack is.

  1. The Lizzie McGuire Movie Soundtrack: The Lizzie McGuire Movie never gets old! I’ve seen it way too many times and never get sick of it. I really like the soundtrack too. Again, various artists.

  1. The OC Mix 1/Mix 2: The OC was a TV show, not a movie, so maybe it shouldn’t be on this list. But I listen to the OC Mixes way too often to not give them a shoutout. You’ll definitely get California vibes from listening to them!

  1. 500 Days of Summer Soundtrack: I love this soundtrack featuring various artists! Every time I listen to “Us” by Regina Spektor, I immediately think of the opening scene of this movie. Wait, now I want to watch this movie right now haha.

Hope you enjoyed this! PLEASE LET ME KNOW ANY OTHER GOOD SOUNDTRACKS…I LOVE DISCOVERING NEW MUSIC!!! Thanks!

How to Naturally Meet New Friends and Significant Others

In my last post, I claim that you can ALWAYS make new friends. But making new friends isn’t as easy as it sounds. The same goes for meeting new significant others. I definitely do not know all the answers here, but I’ll give some advice on how to go about doing these things from my own personal experiences.

This may sound cliché, but I really believe it’s true:

To naturally meet new friends and/or significant others, simply start doing things that make you happy.

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I’m going to explain three ways you can meet new people you like by doing things that make you happy:

  1. You can meet people directly from doing things that make you happy

This one is pretty simple. Let’s say you really love…soccer! But you don’t play anymore because you don’t have the time, or you don’t have friends that are up for playing with you.

Well, first of all, 99.9% of the time, the excuse “you don’t have the time” is utter bullshit. You probably do have the time, and you’re just not making the time. If you’re reading this right now, then you DEFINITELY have the time, because not only are you spending precious minutes of your day on sarahgrand.wordpress.com, you probably accessed this blog through facebook, which you were probably wasting time on before clicking the link to this post. So that takes care of that. You have the time issue settled.

Now let’s say you don’t have any friends that are into soccer enough to actually want to play with you. If that’s the case, then I suggest you spend, I don’t know, THIRTY MINUTES one day looking up soccer leagues in your area. Unless you live in the rural regions of Siberia or something, I’m pretty sure you can find one within reasonable distance of your work or home. Ta da! You join a league, you’re doing something you love, that’s healthy for your body, WITH other people, who have at least one similar interest, who could potentially become friends or significant others, or introduce you to friends or significant others, and so on and so forth.

Maybe this hypothetical situation seems a little too perfect for you. I get it. It’s not like every time you try something new, all this great stuff is going to happen. But you have more of a chance of something good happening in your life if you try new things than if you stay inside your hermit cave of an apartment and mope around. What’s the worst that could happen? You get in a little better shape?

Maybe this situation seems like a really great idea to you, but you’re just way too shy and/or socially awkward to join a new group or activity alone. This is basically me. When I want to go to an event or join a new group thing, I usually try to coerce a friend to accompany me to act as an awkwardness buffer. Sometimes this works, sometimes this doesn’t. It didn’t work when I joined the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) almost a year ago. I couldn’t convince any of my friends to join with me because none of my friends are into graphic design (understandable). I somehow still built up the courage to join the society on my own though.

I go to AIGA events alone pretty frequently. Even though most of them are panel discussions where you can basically slip in without anyone seeing you, I still get nervous sometimes to show up solo. But it’s getting better. Generally the more times you do something, the more conditioned you get.

I’ve been kind of able to overcome the hurdle, but for some people, going to events alone is just not an option. It’s too anxiety-inducing. If you’re one of these people, that’s totally fine and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. While I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone (see “The Benefits of Being Single”), the whole point of this post is to encourage you to do things that make you happy. If joining a group activity or going to an event alone (even in an area that you love) is going to make you so anxious and nervous that you won’t be able to act like a normal human being at said group activity/event and won’t be happy there, then maybe it’s not the best idea for you. See method #2 as an alternative.

  1. You can meet people indirectly from doing things that make you happy

When you ask people for advice on how to meet new friends or significant others, they usually suggest doing things like those I mentioned in method #1: join a club or an activity, go to events or just out more in general, use a dating app or meetup.com, etc. While these are probably the most direct ways to meet new people, as I mentioned earlier, they’re not for everyone, especially really shy people. And that’s fine! I personally kind of fall into this group. Right now, I’m decently comfortable with going to AIGA events alone, but I don’t know if I’m at solo “meetup.com” level yet. That’s pretty intense.

Even if I was less awk, it just turns out that most of the stuff that makes me really happy is kind of isolating—like writing or design. I’m not really into group sports or stuff like that. And I have no real desire to join any meetup groups. Whether you’re really shy or your passions are on the more isolating side, or both, understand that it’s possible to meet people indirectly from doing things that make you happy, even if the things that make you happy aren’t necessarily interactive.

Let me explain by using this blog as an example.

I started writing on this blog again because I got some positive feedback on this inspirational “Anyone Can Cook” post on my design website. Getting that feedback made me realize that it actually makes me really happy to share my thoughts, give advice, and help people through my writing. So I started to write again.

Writing makes me happy, but it’s generally a totally solo activity. Starting this blog again, I had no expectations to meet anyone new or gain new friendships from it. The thought didn’t even cross my mind. But since making my first new post less than a week ago, four people (that I’m not even that close to) have privately messaged me to tell me they really like what I have to say! And those reach-outs lead to short chats. And two of those short chats lead to plans to catch up in person.

I’m not necessarily going to become BFFs with any of the people that messaged me—I might not even ever speak to some of them again. But this example just goes to show you that sometimes, when you do stuff that makes you happy precisely because it makes you happy, and have no ulterior motives, other stuff gets accomplished in the process. I hope that makes sense. Basically, things have a funny way of working themselves out when you start following your heart more. So go ahead and do it already!

Having no ulterior motives is something I want to briefly discuss before I move onto method #3. If you join a hiking group just because you want to meet a burly mountain man or lumbersexual, you probably won’t. I mean you might, but I suspect the chances are pretty slim. I don’t know the psychological reasoning behind this, and frankly I’m a bit curious about it, but that’s just the way it seems to go (at least for me). If you join a hiking group because you legitimately like hiking and would consistently show up to the group even if there were no prospects of meeting anyone new there, then I think you have a better shot of meeting new people you like there. So make sure you’re doing things that actually make you happy, and not things that make your imaginary dream man or woman or friends happy.

Finally, there is one last way that doing things that make you happy can help you meet people you like.

  1. You can attract new friends and/or significant others with your happiness (which you have because you’re doing things that make you happy) 

When I was going through my rut junior year of college (which you can read a bit more about here), I started doing more creative things. And that’s when things started falling into place.

It wasn’t even that I just started meeting new people that I liked. Weird stuff started happening. Stars were aligning. I got a new internship, I lost some weight, I started looking better, gaining more confidence, and trying new things. I think all this good stuff started happening simply because I became a happier person overall, by finally making my creative hobbies a priority in my life. Before that, I had just drowned myself in engineering schoolwork, neglected my other passions, and basically decided I was just going to be miserable for the rest of my life.

Happy people are attractive. If you’re smiling and in a good mood, you literally give off a special energy that other people want to be around. I know this is true from my personal experience. Once I started doing things that made me happy, I suddenly felt like guys were actually interested in me (wait WHAT?), and that’s also when I started making new friends. Aside from having a glow and attracting people to you, being happy also gives you a more open mind. You’ll become more open to befriending people or dating people that you might have turned down in a more negative state.

TL;DR

Start doing things that make you happy. Stuff will start working out. You’ll start meeting new friends and significant others, among other good things.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!!!

Your Kind of Smart

I have been an overachiever all my life. One of my earliest memories is of my pre-school teacher holding up a drawing I made of a Christmas tree for the whole class to see. “Everyone, try to make a tree like Sarah’s” she said, as I looked down and smiled. I continued to get similar praises during my elementary and middle school years.

Up until high school, I actually really liked being an overachiever. Kids have this sort of naïve confidence about themselves. If I worked hard on something, I was excited to show it off. If I scored well at school, I felt proud and smart. I was never ashamed or embarrassed of my work ethic and genuine enthusiasm for projects.

All of this changed on an unsuspecting fall day during my sophomore year of high school. I was walking around the track during gym period, when suddenly, a peer of mine ran up to tell me that class rankings were just announced, and I was tied with a few people for number one. Boy, she didn’t look too thrilled. I remember it like it was yesterday. I would soon learn that a lot of other people weren’t too thrilled, either.

1526505_10151919787298977_260859689_n{Me in 2008, aged 16}

Before I move on, let me back up a bit here. Yes, I overachieved at school, and probably cared way more than the average teenager about projects, grades, studying, and the like. But it was never like I had an agenda. I wasn’t trying to get to the top of my class, or even accepted into a dream college. And even if I was, so what? I was just doing my thing, and working hard and trying my best are part of my nature. I don’t half-ass anything, even stuff I’m not passionate about or particularly interested in. That’s just the way I am.

Being that I didn’t even know rankings were a thing at the time, the news that I was tied for number one came as much a surprise to me as it did to everyone else. Up until this point, I had been able to mind my own business at school, but suddenly, I was thrown into the spotlight. And for the first time ever, I had haters.

Haters are a funny thing. Sometimes you don’t have to do anything remotely mean or wrong to get them. My haters thought I didn’t deserve to be number one because there were “naturally smarter” people in my year, and they made that crystal clear to me for the remainder of my high school experience.

To be fair, as mean as these bullies were, they had some valid points. There were a few of those “laid-back genius” types in my grade (you know…those kids who don’t even have to crack open a book or take down notes to ace physics exams), and god knows I’m not one of them. I am able to excel at almost everything I do, but sometimes I have to work at it. So, if school rankings are supposed to be some sort of measure of “natural intellect,” then yes, maybe there should have been a few people ahead of me. Though I consider myself a sharp girl, I’m not a genius, and I’ve never claimed to be one; what bothered me about this whole situation was not that I thought I deserved to be number one. It was how black and white my bullies made the notion of “smartness” out to be.

To them, a person was either “naturally smart” or a “hard worker,” and there was no in-between. Naturally smart people didn’t need to study or do homework to succeed, and they scoffed at grades and the “limiting school system.” Hard workers, on the other hand, were sheep guised as intelligent individuals, totally incapable of doing anything beyond their structured duties. They lacked substance and passion.

Though I think this “reasoning” is absolute bogus now, as a teenager, I really let it affect me. I started believing that just because I worked hard and put effort into my schooling, I was unintelligent. I began to attribute all of my achievements to external factors, rather than my own personal abilities. I began hiding my enthusiasm for school projects, downplaying how much I studied, and pressuring myself to not take notes in class, even when I really wanted to. These behaviors might seem silly to some, and I even cringe looking back at some of my more pathetic moments, but I know I wasn’t the only one feeling this way and doing these things.

I remember observing people during class, peering around the room to see if other people were taking notes before they’d put their pen down to paper. I remember listening to countless exaggerations of how little people studied for exams, the SAT, or AP tests. I felt like everyone was in some sort of competition to see who cared the least about school, while simultaneously caring a lot about school? Weird times. And though I saw all this going on around me, I felt like no one was willing to have an honest conversation about it. Perhaps my high school was the only hell hole where this culture existed, but I doubt it.

It took quite a bit of time, but I eventually stopped feeling unintelligent and worthless, and I have grown to not only accept, but also love being an overachiever and, dare I say, a perfectionist? (another touchy word from my high school times).

I think part of getting over it came with age. As you get older, you simply stop giving a crap about what other people think, and get a clearer vision of your strengths and weaknesses. Another large part of getting over it came with realizing that “smartness” is not as black and white as my bullies made it out to be.

As I said before, I’m not a genius. Of course, sometimes I still envy those people who can gracefully absorb really complicated stuff through listening alone. Of course I think it would be awesome to, I don’t know, be the next Albert Einstein or something. But the truth is, I will never be that kind of smart. Still, my kind of smart is just as important.

My kind of smart is that I’m highly efficient, organized, clear-headed, and ambitious. I might not be able to understand every really complicated concept as fast as a laid-back genius, but give me some sample problems and a few hours, and I’ll pick that stuff up quickly and be raring to go the next time I see a similar problem. I’m the girl you go to if you want something done right, on time, and without a headache. Though I think I’m a more of a detail-oriented person by nature, I’ve been taking on more “big picture” tasks at work, and through practice and experience, succeeding at those too, and really enjoying them.

What’s your kind of smart?

Regardless of what it is, there’s really no point in feeling inferior. A good team has people of all different types of smart. Sometimes you need a straight-out physics-type genius. Sometimes you need a people-person that’s socially smart. Sometimes, you need a total sleazeball to get a specific task done. I swear! There will always be a way to spin your “smartness” to bring a lot to the table.

Since this essay is geared towards hard workers, I just need to say: If you’re an overachiever like me, and at times feel embarrassed or ashamed of your work ethic, stop that thinking right now! People that take initiative and seek out work are so desirable in the workplace, and honestly pretty hard to come by.

And one more thing I have to say: just because you’re hard working, doesn’t mean you’re just a workhorse either. I know so many overachievers who also happen to be very passionate and creative. Not only do they have bright ideas, they also take action and follow through on their goals diligently. As Picasso once said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.” Just because you’re willing to work hard on pretty much anything does NOT mean you lack substance. Maybe you haven’t found your passions yet. I didn’t home in on my passions until I was 21. Or maybe your passion is working hard, and there’s nothing wrong with that either! I personally find almost any type of work to be fulfilling as long as I’m super involved and I feel needed. You could throw me into a startup about cars, and even though I don’t care much about cars right now, if the environment was super fast-paced and I had a lot of responsibility, I’d probably get really into it. I think this is why I enjoyed working on pretty much any school project as a kid, regardless of the subject.

To close this up, since you’re probably wondering, I didn’t end up being number one in high school. During my senior year, I got a B in gym class on purpose because I couldn’t take the bullying anymore. I understand why I did this, because I was young, impressionable, and going through a tough time. If dropping to number 3 was going to ease the hate, then I wanted to do that.

If I could go back to high school knowing what I know now though, I would handle some things a bit differently. Most notably, I would own it. I wouldn’t dampen my projects, restrain my note-taking, or act chill about tests I was secretly freaking out about. I would just be myself, do my best, share my work, and shamelessly overachieve.

New Website

I have not been posting any of my recent projects because I made a new website: sarahgrand.com. Check it out!