As many of you know I am a lover of music and every summer we hear what is the ‘Song of the Summer’ and I thought to myself I am over the basic list of songs that are played repeatedly on the radio over and over again until you are forced to know all the words. Even though I do love a good bop here are the songs that have made my summer days and summer nights just a little bit better. Give them a listen, drink some lemonade, sit out on the front porch, go for a drive, watch the sunset; you deserve it, it’s summertime.
*click on any of the song titles to listen to the song*
June has come and gone, and now as July summer nights stroll in I look back on how much things have changed in the past 6 months. I look back on the goals we also know as New Years Resolution’s and think to myself if I am still on the right track. Like most people say ‘no one keeps their New Year’s Resolution(s) anyway’, but I have really tried this year to make a strong effort to follow through on the promises I have made to myself.
The list above were the goals that I had set for myself on the second day of the new year back when I was on my way home from New York City. Going through and looking back on the list I can say that some of these goals aren’t going to be completed this year or at all, and that is okay. However what I can say is that I have still made good with some of the promises. I have started taping for my vlog and have been fairly consistent with my blogging. I have started looking at graduate programs at HBCU’s. I work out more than I did back in 2016. I have loved myself more and respected my body more as a temple and not a trap house with that I eat and consume. I am far from perfect, but blessed to day that I am far from struggling either. It is not about checking every single box of my list off that matters most to me but the growth and improvement I am making. Never forget to check in with who matters most, yourself.
So this is it. 20 years of life finally coming to a close as I turn 21 and I can honestly can say in the words of Viola Davis, “You can’t be hesitant about who you are”, and this has stood with me time and time again. I remember back to when I first turned 16 and returned to New York City, and I was lost in the city that in my mind was one of the most dangerous places as a sophomore in high school to roam alone by yourself. I made a choice in that moment to either get scared and call friends or parents to come and help me, or trust my instinct and know that if I can find my way then I was meant to live in NYC like I have dreamt of for so many years. Long story short; I almost got hit by a car and couldn’t find a bathroom forever but I found my way and trusted my gut to know that I am capable of things I didn’t even think I could do.
When I turned 20 years old I thought that I was invincible and that nothing would stop me from being anything less than phenomenal, but what I really learned is that sometimes growing up is hard. In the wise words of Rupi Kaur, “Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself”, I learned that 20 years old was my year to learn to be okay being lonely and to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. I didn’t know how much I thought I knew about myself until I had no other choice but to be lonely and forced to take a good, long look in the mirror at who I was. I am not saying this to say at 20 years old you have to have everything in your life figured out but everyone needs that time when they really reflect on who they are as a person and who they want to be. This was my chance to make mistakes and I did. This was my year to grow and want better for myself because I am worth it and I did. I was afforded the opportunity to meet and become acquaintances and friends with so many incredible people this past year of my life. I also learned that some people come into your life to teach you lessons about yourself, to help you grow and understand more, to show you love even if it is only for a season and that’s okay. I learned, I grew, and became better as I ventured through another year.
I can not thank you ALL enough. Each and every single person that has helped me grow, learn, and become a better me. To any and everyone reading this thank you for making an impact on my life that I could not foresee as that lost boy in NYC at the age of 16.
“I would tell my younger self just be yourself—that who you are is good enough.” —Viola Davis, 2014
I started a youtube channel and have published my first video! I am in the process of creating more videos currently, and will be hopefully publishing one video every week. Comments, suggestions for topics to discuss, and other ideas are welcome! Of course don’t forget to subscribe and smash the like button if you enjoy the video 🙂
“certain things you don’t actually think about until you actually really need them like toilet paper.” -Ronnie Hicks
This is a quote my father told me when I moved back home for the first time since I left home two years ago. We all forget something at one point or another. Whether it be the most minute things or the biggest objects in our lives, some things in our life we just do not think about until we need them. For my dad that is the toilet paper but for me it was my happiness.
I recently stopped and realized that I am a junior in college meaning that in less than a year I am expected to be walking across a stage in my cap and gown shaking hands of dean’s and collegiate professors as I graduate from my university receiving my bachelor’s degree. I am now looking around and thinking that I may be ‘that scared senior’, scrambling for a job because I have not done enough to prepare myself professionally.
I have done a lot with my time during these undergraduate years and have had a laundry list of successes along with some minor setbacks, but through all of that work and determination I am now looking around and asking myself the million dollar question, am I happy? Now of course from the outside looking in I am not doing too bad at all, but honestly after many days and weeks of thinking I am not happy with who I have become because I forgot what matters most, me.
I forgot the toilet paper and am sitting waiting for someone to rescue me from the stall, but instead of waiting for someone to save me I am making a way to save myself. I took on more than I can chew with all of my responsibilities and I am producing less quality work than I would like to see from myself. I have a great resume to show for all of this work but put these awards, leadership positions, and jobs before what is most important my happiness and in connection my health. Note to self; never forget that you are your harshest critic and that you are deserving of saying no, having your best interest at heart, taking time to take care of yourself, and put yourself first.
Thank you for reading.
Miles S. Hicks
PS. From Dad
Me: Dad I gonna live at home now…
Daddy: Cool, can you take your sister to school tomorrow?
“I am what I wear.” – Amneris, from Aida Broadway Musical
I look at myself and I look at what time has done to my closet, I’ve changed. In my younger years as a child I reminisce on my mom and dad and their younger fashionable selves. My dad and his extensive Polo Ralph Lauren Collection and my mom with her extensive luxury bags. I like to think that I get part of my style inspirations from my parents, but I am pretty sure they would beg to differ. I remember when I saw my first episode of Project Runway and wanted to be a fashion designer in the fifth grade. A bunch of kids made fun of me because boys weren’t supposed to like fashion and clothes, but not me. I loved everything about fashion so much that my first job was working at Hollister Co when I was 17 years-old. I remember how excited I was to dress in all of the latest preppy trends that Hollister Co created every season. It was a great start and I will never forget working the sales floor and stockroom of Hollister Co. I later began to realize though that Hollister Co modeled themselves on looking familiar, classic, and cored to their brand on one style aesthetic that I had began to outgrow. By 19 years-old I stopped wanting to look like everyone else because I soon realized that I am not everyone else, which also meant stop wearing what everyone else was too. I soon made it my mission to look where others wouldn’t dare to for clothing and accessories to wear. I didn’t want to be different I wanted, at the time, to look like the me I had envisioned.
One of my personal style philosophies is as follows, “you wear what you want when you want, no apologies.”, and this is something that I am growing more onto the idea of. Think about this for one second; out of all the outfits that you can remember wearing can you honestly say every outfit was A1 awesome? If you answered yes than please contact me so we can be friends. I would love to see this perfect magical closet of looks that has clothing that never repeats within the same month, makes perfect outfits, and is always styled and accessorized to perfection. Now think again, is this realistic? NO, of course not! Every outfit isn’t going to be one for the story books but what differs a good outfit and an amazing outfit is confidence.
If fashion, and working in retail fashion has done anything for me it has given me confidence to step out of my shy shell, to try new things in fashion and in life, and dare to push the envelope at times when it is appropriate. It is not just the clothes that I put on my back when I get ready for my day it is my mood, it is my joy, it is my comfort, it is me getting that compliment that will make my day, it is me nailing an interview, it is my expression and so much more.
So here’s to the skinny jeans, horizontal stripes, wide brimmed fedoras, bow ties, reader glasses, thousands of witty graphics tees, high top sneakers, statement jackets, and everything that finds a home in my closet. Thank you for being my armor and shield.
Yesterday I had the great pleasure of attending my second Creative Mornings Richmond event. My morning began finding my way to the historic Hofheimer Building. Once I made my way up the steps I was greeted, checked in, and presented a name tag. This name tag had a question under where I wrote my name asking, “what fashion brand speaks to me?”, and the question took me a second to really think about it because I didn’t know whether to choose a brand that I was wearing, or my favorite brand, or even a brand that I can’t afford but in my dreams would wear everyday if I could. I chose a brand that I own a few pieces from called Cheap Monday because their clothing describes me as a person.
I then got to network in the beautiful Hofheimer Building before creating a paper airplane. The Creative Mornings theme for this month was ‘Beyond’, so it seemed pretty fitting to be making a paper airplane, because as Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story said ,“To infinity and beyond.”. My creative process was just to make the paper airplane look like something I would make if I were back in middle school. Soon after taking my seat did I know that I would be flying it in front of the entire audience of Creative Mornings Richmond as a little mini competition warm-up for the audience.
Alas mine didn’t win, but it was interesting to see how other people crafted their paper airplanes, and the thought process of how to create the best flying or best looking paper airplane. Following the fun shenanigans of that activity was the introduction of the host of Creative Mornings, Doug Nunn who spoke about the Creative Morning’s monthly spotlights on different industries of Richmond, and how this month was themed behind fashion since next week will be the kickoff for RVA Fashion Week. Following a brief introduction Doug Nunn welcomed to the stage Rupa Singh, local business owner of Love This (@lovethisrva). Love This is a fashion boutique housed inside of a vintage mobile Airstream Trailer that encourages and inspires ethically sourced goods.
Rupa started by saying that, “Beyond means for me looking on the other side”, and this made me think well what is on the other side of everything. In everything there is a story to be told and multiple sides to that story, and for Rupa Singh this meant not only where do you get your clothing and everyday goods but what is the journey it took to make the products that we consume. Rupa followed this statement by later saying, “I will buy products that i love, that fit within my budget, and that do good.”, for me I am a struggling college student and if I could, I would do my best to buy a product that was ethically sourced. Unfortunately thought I don’t always look on the other side to see what is happening and how my purchasing power makes a difference in the lives of others.
Rupa Singh’s final thought that she presented to the audience stated, “If each of us were given a choice to make a positive impact or negative impact with our purchases – we’d always choose the positive impact.”, which I believe is so true in nearly every facet of life. If I could be more impactful in a positive way rather than a negative way I would always do what I believed is ethical and right. It does not take a lot to look further into the brands that we buy on a day to day basis, but because of the capitalistic society that we live in people are more prone to buying what is right in front of them rather than looking beyond what we purchase and what we consume. In closing I would like to leave you with this quote:
One of the most stressful and frustrating events that people have to endure in my opinion is moving. I recently moved all of my things out of my old dorm to a new apartment within 48 hours this past week. With the help of my best friend, Mom, a lot of patience, and three car loads of my belongings I was moved from my old dorm to a new apartment. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, but part of me actually misses the dorm and the other hall mates.
In this transition period I did however find myself living at home with my parents, grandmother, and little sister. As you can imagine no family is perfect and every family has their quirks, but at the end of the day your home is where your heart is. Moving is never easy especially when you have been practically independent for so long but my mom always says, “home is always your soft place to land.”, home isn’t where everything is perfect but where I sleep knowing that the ones I love are under the same roof.
This week I turned to the words of Where I Sleep by Emeli Sandé. The song lyrics that resonate with me were; “See the times are changing / I’m sure of nothing that I know / Except this is us and this is love, and this is where I’m home.”, and home is loud, kind of messy, full of talk about basketball, at times a bit stressful, yet always full of laughs and love. I don’t think that anything is guaranteed in life, but home is always where my Mom, Dad, sister Chandler, and Grandma Helen are. I challenge you to think of where your home is? It does not have to be your physical address, it does not even have to be where your parents live. Where do you feel like you are safe, loved, and accepted? For me it is where I sleep under the same roof with the ones that I love.
In the closing words from the song, “In a world that’s breaking / where nothing is for keeps / Oh this is us, this is love and this is where I sleep.”. In a world that is forever changing and moving there is nothing that brings me more of joy then to come home to this family.
In life we all experience failures or setbacks. There sometimes is just no way diverting the cold, hard truth that we all are capable of making mistakes whether they be in or out of our control. I have failed many times and suffered great losses in my short life so far but I don’t think that all failures are truly failing. The question is; where do we go from where we are, when we fail?
I recently was let go from a job that I felt that I exceeded at because of my own doing. I made a mistake and suffered the consequences of being asked to leave the company. I felt like my world had shattered and I was broken. I was stressed beyond belief thinking, where do I go from here, what do I do now, and how do I pick up the pieces? Like most people who are fired or laid off these are all questions that we must ask ourselves and because of this we worry, stress out, and in rare occasion even freak out a bit. I remember how it felt when I was deferred from VCU after applying the first time. I remember in high school when I was told even though I was seen as the best candidate that I would not be able to be in a position of leadership that I had worked years for. I remember when I was told that the internship that I plan on working following my undergraduate work would not be interested in me that summer. I say all of this to drive the point home that failure is a fact of life. There is no way around it but we can control how we respond.
I often find the best therapy is reflecting what went wrong (but of course not for too long) and then learning from the mistake and moving forward. Here is a list of 8 Things To Remember When You Fail (So You Can Bounce Back Better Than Before) according to Forbes.com, and I could not agree more with number five where it says, “Failure is a verb, not a noun.”, because you are not the failures or mistakes you produce. It happened, we learn from it and we do our best to try not to fall for the same mistakes and move on to better. Always remember that this is not the end. Stay hopeful.
1. “Even though things didn’t work out the way I wanted, I’m still OK.”
2. “Failure is proof I’m pushing myself to my limits.”
3. “I will focus on the things I can control.”
4. “Failing feels uncomfortable, but I can handle it.”
5. “Failure is a verb, not a noun.”
6. “Failure is an opportunity to sharpen my skills.”
7. “Recovering from failure can make me stronger.”
8. “I’ve overcome tough things before. I can do it again.”
I recently had the great pleasure of visiting The Hodges Partnership a few weeks ago with the VCU Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) to see what the life of a public relations professional included in an agency environment. For those who do not know; The Hodges Partnership was co-founded by Jon Newman and Josh Dare who work with a tremendous team down in Shockoe Bottom of Richmond, Virginia. The companies historic name actually comes from Gil Hodges and 1969 New York Mets or as their nickname became “Miracle Mets” for creating one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history.
The Hodges Partnership office space is also themed around it’s baseball naming with different sections of the entire office space titled after pieces you would find in a baseball stadium. The team at The Hodges Partnership is comprised of 14 staff members including the co-founuders of the company and houses multiple client accounts for firms and organizations in need of top notch professional public relations consulting in media relations, content marketing, social media, and communication audits.
The work culture around the office of The Hodges Partnership is a symbiotic team with each member of the staff having their own specified client accounts that they consult for as well as collaborate with one another on tasks and assignments. I think that this division of labor among the staff is strategically in place because no one in The Hodges Partnership office seems to look overworked or unhappy, and that speaks to the culture of talent and work ethic of the staff.
The Hodges Partnership also host an award winning blog; The Gongwhich has been recognized by the Richmond Chapter Public Relations Society of America for the Capital Award of Excellence in 2016. The co-founder Jon Newman is also heavily involved in social media of the organization and hosting weekly dialogues via Twitter on public relations topics with the hashtag #AskJon.
After a tour around the office given by VCU Professor Lindsay Grant, APR who is also a member of The Hodges Partnership team, and an insightful question and answer session in ‘Left Field’ with the VCU PRSSA and a few members of the staff that concluded our time spent at The Hodges Partnership.