Life Update. A Big One.
Ok. Here it is.
The long awaited Life Update. I’m sure I could go back and see how many of these I’ve published in the past year or two but that’s part of the over arching problem.
I do this thing. And I talked to a lot of other kids that do creative stuff and everyone seems to feel the same way. It’s this thing where once I fall behind on schedule, even for a little bit, I fall out of touch. Not out of touch with what’s going on in the world or out of touch with content or anything, but kind of out of touch with myself.
I’ve probably written another three hundred pages of stories and ideas in the past few months, but I’ve just had this urge not to post anything. I think the issue is that I fell behind with keeping up with everything.
This breaks down into a few parts
My Creative Block - OHKAY
Summer + Writing - LA + Home
The Great Escape - Barcelona
Back To Being Happy - Real Life.
The photo I chose for the cover of this is from me sitting in my window in my beddroom in Barcelona. If you get through this all, you’ll understand how much it means to me and how important the happiness in that photo is to the greater whole of the Being Happy portion of this towards the end. Skim if you’d like, but just read all of this as if I’m sitting there telling you the story, exactly how you’d imagine it’d go. Don’t cut the movie until the credits finish rolling and have fun navigating through whatever maze exists in my head.
So yeah, I guess we start here…
Towards the end of last school year I was really on my A game. I was working really hard to channel all my creativity into the brand and into OHKAY and everything it was really pushing, and then I hit a wall. Not a physical wall for all you people that are reading this that don’t understand my constant analogies and metaphors, but a major wall that was split down the middle with creativity and work load.
School got really busy, I was doing nothing but working on class work and spending every night in the library just studying instead of my usual free writing, and then it was finally nice out so I was spending a lot of time outside with my friends. That was the beginning of the dilemma.
Once you start getting out of your work flow, your creative process, and what drives you to keep making new content (whether it be clothes, videos, writing pieces, whatever). School had ended and then I had the whole next few months to kind of hang out before my great escape.
I had done a spring collection of clothes that were accompanied by a few creative writing pieces and once I had sold out of everything and the office was clear, I kind of wanted to take a step back and enjoy myself.
I have this constant thought in my head. It’s more of a fear. And at that point in time I hadn’t really been able to shake it. When you’re in college, and the real world is right around the corner, everyone’s talking about stuff that sometimes seems a little scary.
“What internship are you doing this summer?” or “What firm are you trying to work for?”
Then there’s the kids that say “I can’t wait to go home and work at my local ice cream shop all summer long”.
I know those vary in seriousness, but they really freaked me out. There’s not much time left before the real world starts. You know, the real world you enter when you’re 22 and your degree only means as much as you make it mean and you get a job paying $75K a year and you have to show up for work at 8am every day.
I finished the end of the school year, cleaned up my apartment, and went back to Massachusetts.
I started what was going to be the last summer before real life. And luckily, this was basically a foreshadow of fun and adventure to the Great Escape.
So I spent time back home. Doing, you know, home stuff.
After spending time with people from all over the country, I really began to understand that the idea of home stuff is different to everyone.
I have friends who live in the middle of the country who’s home stuff is them hanging out on farms. Or like, in towns that are uhhhhh… near farms?
I have friends who’s home stuff is them hanging out on yachts in Miami or people who’s home stuff is driving around their suburban town in Ohio probably smoking weed in someone’s car, doing just about nothing.
But no matter what type of home stuff you do, you need to appreciate it. Because once you get older, going home isn’t the same. It even happened this summer, not everyone went home, some people moved out to big cities to work for big companies or get internships and part of that youthful feeling of “going home” seemed to fade to nothing.
The idea of nostalgia is important to me, so whenever I can get a grip back on that feeling of being a kid, even if that means going down to the ocean and looking at the stars with my friends or going to a house party in the woods, I’m there. I’m in that shit. And I’m making sure I’m having the most possible fun doing it because in a few years it just won’t be the same. I guess that’s just how life works, and how people do end up phasing out their adolescent years.
But I went home. I spent my time at beach houses and on boats and driving around towns surrounded by woods and just really having fun.
I knew I wasn’t going to get a job because… well… why would I do that? I’ll get a job in a few years and I’ll have it forever. That’s how life goes, especcially for us who go to college and want to take that path.
But the problem continued, and I fell so out of touch with my creativity.
Don’t get me wrong, in my day to day life I have an immense amount of fun and like I said I do everything to the fullest, but I wasn’t making clothes, I didn’t care about making money, and I had no drive to write.
After a few weeks at home I had done the best possible home stuff a kid could have, and I packed my bag and moved to LA to live with my friends for a month.
I basically stayed at friends place to friends place around West Hollywood, and lived the life of the rest of the LA kids. You wake up whenever you want, make a few videos maybe, post something on Instagram, maybe do a brand deal or set up one for a friend, get some money, and keep going with your life.
It was great. We went out every single night. We woke up whenever we felt like it. We partied with everyone you see on your Instagram explore page. The whole nine yards.
I’d go more in depth but that’s just LA. If you live there, or you’ve really been a part of the grand scheme of it, that’s how it goes. It’s nothing different from partying and having fun anywhere else, except everyone’s intentions are kind of more “how can we post this for our one million followers to see it”
And at the end of the day, something I’ve always really grown up knowing but a lot of people just don’t understand… all of those people are just people.
Every kid you see with a million or ten million followers all grew up very similar to you and me. Every one of them just got a big break and made enough money and had the drive to pack up and move out there.
LA is kind of like…… if everyone from the internet went to one big college. But everyone lived off campus.
They have their own version of off campus parties and they have their own version of class. For some people it’s filming TV shows, other people it’s daily vlogs or whatever it may be. You get the gist.
But the month was great. And it brought me right up to a few weeks before the big getaway.
When I was in LA I wrote the OHKAY Zine One. It was a project that I wanted to do by the end of my sophomore year of school, and I had it drafted the day before I left for summer.
But it was a 60 page creative project and it needed to be good. I revised it during my month there and just worked on bits and pieces of it.
To finish it, I needed to be back where I started it.
I packed the bag back up and flew back to Chicago.
It was around the time of Lollapalooza which I had never been to, but heard great things about.
An investor friend of mine had gotten his hands on a bunch of VIP passes and told me if I wanted one I could grab one at his place.
I was on the next flight out with my bag and my apartment keys. I showed up, and jumped right back into my Chicago life.
That’s another thing about getting older, too. You have lives all over the place.
When I’m in LA, I have my LA life and my LA friends.
When I’m in Chicago, I have my school life and my business life and my apartment life and my productive life.
When I’m in New York I have my cut throat NY life where everyone’s on the clock and everyone’s going out and it actually does matter what you wear when you leave the house.
Then when I’m back home in Massachusetts I have my growing up life, my hometown friend life, and the family life. But moral of this all is that it’s good to be able to exist in multiple places at once, without losing touch of any of them.
Got back to Chicago. Went to Lollapalooza. Great week, great time. Ended the far too long bender and went right back to the library at my university to finish the Zine.
Spent a few nights in some dark library rooms with nothing but my computer screen illuminating my face, figuring out exactly what I wanted to include in this Zine.
A few days later it was all done and I got the next flight back to Boston. It was time to actually print these damn things.
I printed a few at the library in Chicago and used them as stock photos. I did my whole mini advertising campaign for it and in a few days I ran my hands through my hair and did one of those
“How the hell am I going to manufacture 550 books”
So I started calling around, seeing who’s parents back home were publishers or publicists and who knew how to print these things. I set up a meeting with my friends dad who publishes tons and tons of really cool books, and we came up with the idea that I should just keep it really DIY, which was totally on brand with what the book was about - starting a brand from scratch and Doing It Yourself.
I got a mini team together, found out how to print 30,000 pages of paper at my local Staples, and put the books together.
We didn’t have many days left before my departure yet again, so we worked quick.
Lots of pizza, to be honest lots of juul pods, and lots of envelopes.
Task : Complete
Next Mission : Europe.
All the books went out in the mail, I had replenished my bank account high enough to have made it worth my while to not get a job over the summer, and I was ready for the big and grand Great Escape.
So this part of my life, well, this part gets really crazy. If you think anything before this has ever been crazy, put that at a 2. The rest of the story, 99% of it which really will never be told unless you ask me personally, was a 10.
From this point on, I kind of re-invent my life. Not even kind of. No. I reinvent my life.
I figured out a way to pack four months of my life, from clothes to shoes to anything in between, all into one suitcase, one duffle bag, and one backpack.
My mom dropped me off at the airport late one night and gave me a big hug, and an even bigger “hey… good luck bro”.
And this part of life, well, this part is called Study Abroad.
If you’ve been following me for a while, I’m sure you got to watch it all unfold. And let me tell you, it unfolded.
I had this master plan to be writing about everything I was doing and making sure I documented the entire thing, but quickly I learned that I wasn’t there for that. I was there to be a kid again.
I got on the plane, totally by myself, and had the one way flight to Barcelona.
Now before I get there, I’d love to describe why I picked that place.
When I was looking to go abroad, I knew I wanted something new. I spent a month last summer living with my friends in London, I’ve been to Paris a bunch of times with my family, and nowhere in Italy is too appealing tom me.
I googled “best party cities to go abroad”
Barcelona was the first one that popped up.
Now, it’s good to know that when I do stuff like this, I just do it. I don’t look into it. I don’t do research. I just do it. So here we are, on the flight, trying desperately to fall asleep with my fingers crossed that it’d be the best four months of my life.
When I woke up, I got off the plane and had very simple instructions.
“Find Leticia, she’s a short women wearing a grey hoodie and she’ll be looking for you at a Pret coffee shop at the arrivals. She’ll take you to your house”
Ok. So. Big airport. New country. No one speaks English. Here we go.
I find Leticia, and she was short, and she indeed was in the grey hoodie like the instructions said.
“Let’s go, jump in this taxi” she told me as we wheeled my bags to the end of the departure area of the Barcelona airport. Little did I know, I was eventually going to learn that airport like the back of my hand and navigate it at 6am blackout drunk just about….. ten times?
She tells the Taxi where to go and we break into some small talk. I tell her that I’m there to re start. She didn’t really know much english so we were going back and forth between her small bits of english and my small bits of spanish from the six years of school they made me take it in.
We got to my new apartment, she let me in, and she gave me this look of like…. “Ok, Game On”.
And that’s exactly how it went. It really was game on.
The rest of the story, you know, like the details and stuff, I’ll save those for another time. But in case you were wondering, it was a reinvention, exactly how I imagined.
I lived in this beautiful apartment on this beautiful street in the middle of Barcelona with 4 other American kids. I went to an international school with people from all over the world, and never once took a minute to relax.
There were 5,000 American kids in Barcelona for the semester.
Now, the next part you need to know is that it only took me about eight hours to figure out that Barcelona is the party capital of the world. They have the best night life out of any other major city (yeah, Ibiza is better but it’s not a city it’s an island full of only clubs and drugs).
So when you have an easy class schedule…( and I mean easy…. I took like a grafitti class, a spanish cultural class, and a few business classes), then your nights become your days and 6am at the clubs feels like 11pm anywhere else.
Life picked up. Fast.
I didn’t know a single person. Not one. I mean, yeah, I had my roommates who became my best friends ever and we worked as a team, but the end goal was like “ok, meet these other five thousand kids, then the next goal was to then meet every cool person at our international school, then meet some Spanish kids, too).
And we did exactly that.
And that’s what I mean about the reinvention.
I was in a place across the world. No one knew who I was. No one cared that I was a creative kid who has a brand and lots of cool friends and does all this stuff. People just cared about who I was in the moment.
I learned that it was cool to just exist, rather to post about existing.
I learned that I didn’t need to be doing stuff to post about it on my stories, or to flex it online.
My life turned (in the least lame way possible) into a movie in the matter of a week.
I became best friends with the guys who ran the ginormous clubs, and I was out every. single. night.
If you follow me on Instagram I’m sure you remember the 34 days where I went out every night straight. Yeah. A month and 4 days, out every night, until the clubs close at 6am, drinking and dancing and feeling the beat from the music vibrate your entire body.
And that’s where I really learned that I needed to take that time to just be myself.
I wasn’t caring about making clothes, or keeping up with my brand, or writing, because I was literally too busy having the time of my life.
As odd as this sounds, it was kind of like the state school experience. All of us were kind of stuck there, with only ourselves to really get to know.
My friend group quickly became kids from all over the country, then all over the world. I learned that I mesh well with the frat guys, and the sorority girls, and the geeky kids that took a leap of faith and trusted themselves enough to go abroad as well.
I learned how to meet people in real life, and not with the use of “what’s your Instagram”
I learned to cook food for myself, and come into the room quiet at 6am when my roommate was sleeping.
I learned that it was important to be a real person.
And all of this sounds so crazy, because to some people it’s natural like that, but sometimes being someone who is involved with the internet and the rest of this shit, you lose touch with people that aren’t in that realm with you.
We were somewhere new every weekend.
My schedule became a lifestyle that no one really….. ever…. would begin to imagine.
Yeah, class for a few hours a day, but no homework at all, no tests, no mandatory attendance.
Every day was something new. Every night was a new scene, and the entire dialog turned into the script for a beautiful movie that keeps playing on repeat in my head.
Mondays were class during the day, dinner with friends, bar from 11-12:30am, then club 1-6am.
Now when I say club, I mean club. Big places that fit a thousand people and every American kid goes to. And as most of you can guess, I was the top of the going out food chain. Since I became friends with the guys that run the clubs, I joined their little circle, and started running the VIP area every night at each place. So, when we’d go out, we’d get 8 free tables and more alcohol than anyone could imagine, and I would never pay a cent. So it was this golden life that I don’t think my body will ever let me live again.
Tuesdays was the same. Sometimes Tuesday nights we’d keep it easy.
Wednesdays. Oh my god. Wednesdays were awful. Only awful because the clubs closed at 7am and I’d be in the uber on the way home at 7am watching the sunrise speaking something that didn’t even sound like Spanish nor English. But it was amazing.
Once the semester got going and we started traveling every weekend, what we would do is book a flight for Thursday at 6am to a new country.
We’d leave the club at 4, go home and get our bags, and go straight to the airport.
When I say this, I want you to imagine it just like something from a scene out of Hangover the movie.
There would be a pack of us, like me and my five friends, all with hoodies and sunglasses on, not saying a word to eachother, with a single duffle bag around our shoulders, the girls with makeup still all over their faces, walking through the airport with each walk stride in unison, just marching to our gate.
When we got to the gate, we’d get a 40 minute nap in, then go to our seat on the plane, and get the rest of our 3 hour nights sleep in. We’d wake up in an entire new country. Every single thursday morning.
And each weekend was kind of a new mission.
Ok, new city, new country, now we have 3 days to do all of it.
In London I stayed with all my London friends and just went to events and parties with them.
In Ibiza we partied like the rich and famous people.
In Amsterdam we smoked weed and walked through the streets and the canals.
In Paris we had dinner in the field under the Eiffel Tower and went clubbing to French Rap music. We spent our days at the Louvre museum and our nights out on the town
In Germany we drank beer at long tables with every other idiot that traveled across the world to go to Oktoberfest and wore those stupid outfits.
In Florence we went clubbing with Serafina and all the Florence people I spent the previous summer hanging out with when Serafina lived there.
In Rome we saw the famous fountain and ran through the city, shopping and getting (not that good) pizza.
In the bottom of Italy we spent a weekend in the Almafi coast like the billionaires do.
In Ireland we spent the weekend in Dublin and drank beer at pubs like those crazy Irish movies.
And every sunday night we’d fly back to Barcelona, put an end to our travel bender, probably get some sleep, wake up Monday and do it all over again.
And. It. Never. Stopped.
It was 4 months of this.
School and chilling outside in the 75 degrees every day. Club every night until the sun came up. Then weekend missions.
It got to the point that I said “I never want to get on another plane again”.
Somehow, no one got hurt, no one went too broke, and we never got sick.
It was like I got a 4 month pass to be immortal.
I mean, my phone did get stolen.
Oh, yo, actually I can’t just leave that to a one-liner. My fucking phone got stolen. Sorry for swearing. But my fucking phone got stolen.
I don’t care about the $1000 it costs to get a new one. Fuck that. That’s fine. But, my phone had 36,000 photos that I didn’t have backed up. And it happened mid way in.
Ok this is actually a wild tale.
So the entire time I was there, from the time I left my mom at the airport all the way through the weekend trips, I vlogged everything on my phone. But I never backed it up.
It was going to be the video I like…. show my kids and post online and have forever. It was going to be amazing. But that happened towards the end of the trip, after all the wild weekend getaways and beautiful tales.
Someone just mugged me for it like they do in Barcelona. It happens. Whatever.
But they took all my content and I had to wipe it remotely from my laptop. Never saw the phone again.
But for the next three whole weeks, I lived without a phone.
I had my insurance company ship one to my mom and she came out to visit me so she brought it three weeks later, but I lived for three weeks no phone.
No fucking PHONE!
It was incredible!
Guess what. I had to live like a normal ass person.
I couldn’t just “go on my phone” in a boring or awkward situation. I could never rely on it for plans or for people to hit me up or anything.
If you needed me , you’d have to text my email address that came through to my laptop or hit me up the old fashioned way… Facebook Messenger.
Wild time. I loved it. Really taught me to live back in the moment.
But whatever, back to the end of things.
Abroad wrapped up, and the movie was coming to a close.
For the last few weeks we made it a point to stay in Barcelona and not go anywhere else.
I spent every minute of the day doing stuff (I had a phone at this point).
I’d walk an hour here, an hour there, wherever.
I made a new friend group and it taught me the importance of having close friends all over again.
I spent time with my friends from China, Egypt, Australia, and America.
We spent every night together and shared stories about our lives and how life would really never be the same. Which it never has been.
Towards the end, I did my goodbyes, I gave my hugs, I cried a bunch, and I packed my bag back up.
It was just like sleep over camp. And if you know me, or my writing, you know how I relate a lot to sleep over camp. But I said it on the first day and I said it on the last….
It was a 4 month version of the greatest sleep over camp anyone could ever ask for.
All we had to do was show up every once in a while for class. Beyond that, camp was what you made of it.
The friends I made there, the days we had and the nights we spent, those can never perfectly be replicated in any other form in any other point in time in life. Mainly what I learned is because those moments were so genuine, that any attempt to recreate them would be a failed attempt to re-fabricate a feeling that once came so naturally. But knowing that made it all the more important to us.
When the credits of the movie began to roll, and we all left one by one, it really sunk in.
That really was the best four months of my life.
I lived like a rockstar. I got paid to go out every night. I saw every country in Europe and made friends all over the world. We tried dr*gs I had never heard of and we never passed up an opportunity to dance until the sun came up. And when I say “we”, I mean all five thousand american kids. Every one of us.
But that’s what made it so special.
And at the end of it all, I really took a step back and looked at what made it so fun. The only thing I came to realize was that it was exactly how it was because it was genuine.
No one did it for the posts. No one did it for the video. No one was in the club popping bottles because a snapchat story was recording them. Yeah, we did that from time to time, why wouldn’t we. But, the interactions, the every day life, the friendships, they were all so genuine.
And it taught me that at the end of the day, you don’t need to be cool online to be cool in real life. Fuck it, it doesn’t one bit matter who you are online, as long as you are cool in real life.
And those skills and that mindset will forever stick with me.
Overall, during my months there, I didn’t do a single thing for my brand. Not one. No blogs, no clothes, no videos, nothing.
Why? Because for the first time in a few years since I started the brand and really became a part of the internet, I finally got to take a step back and take of the shackles that come with constantly being expected of to make content and make pieces and keep growing your brand.
All my brand friends were like “are you done with the brand?” and I was like “no guys, I’m just focusing on myself right now”.
Because at the end of the day, that’s all it was. A big reinvention of my life and a big re start button who I really am, and the person I really want to be.
And at the end of the credits, my name rolled across the screen, and my mom picked me back up at the airport in Boston.
I went home that night and shed a few tears. I really did. I sat outside, with the first moment of peace and quietness for months, and came to the sad realization that my life will never be as fun as it was in those four months.
But that’s life. Chapters start and chapters end. This one happened to be the best chapter, but as this one ended the next one began.
Back to Real Life.
I went home for break for a week, did Christmas at home, then New York for New Years Eve because everyone was there.
New York was really crazy, actually. It was the first time I had gone out out since Barcelona, but back in the American capacity.
Every one of my friends from like all my chapters in life planned to just link in NY that weekend. I took the train in, a bunch of LA kids flew in, and my homie from London was there for a week.
We were all so busy during the weekend and said “ok, everyone just meet in this club for the ball drop”
I pulled up to this club and there was a ginormous line down the block to get in and luckily I just walked up to the door any my homie (from instagram of course) was working the door and pulled me in.
I walked around and it was one of those nights where the entire place is just full of people you know, some just from the internet and youtube and some you’ve ran into all over the world.
It was like one big link n build celebration. Literally everyone was there.
Everyone was like “how was abroad” and I would ask “did you watch it all?” meaning did you follow my stories the entire time.
Everyone was like “of course we did” and I would simply just say “then you were there with me, it was as crazy as it looked”
We partied that night, and a few more nights, and it adjusted me back into the American way of doing things, which let me tell you, far different from the Spanish way.
I went home a day or two later and packed one last bag and went back to school.
This part of the story is all about keeping my head down and getting back to the work flow.
I jumped right back into school, five classes, having responsibilities from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed and constantly running around the city working on stuff.
School has taken up the bulk of my past few months and a few other business ventures have gotten some time, but I haven’t touched anything on here.
A few weeks ago I started really doing big library nights again. Like every night in the library from 9pm - 2am just writing papers and making websites and working on school work and just doing the whole “grind” aspect to junior year of college.
Every night I would tell myself “I’m going to do this life update” and guess what, I’d write a 10 page paper for class and it’d be 2am and I’d just need to go home.
I kind of grew this fear of publishing something.
I think the fear comes from the fact that I haven’t worked on my brand in a while and I just needed to get out of the creative block and just re brand it to the media agency type company I want to eventually be and just start working on it again.
This brand is something that means a lot to me, and I’ve built it up as a platform where I can express my creativity in different forms and really speak to like other kids that want to one day do this stuff too.
It’s at the point in life where I’ve just about seen it all. You know? Like there’s not much I haven’t done besides like get a corporate job. Everything else, I’ve either learned from experience or taught myself.
And I have a lot to teach.
As you can tell, I can write.
I did all of this in one take and I won’t ever proof read it and quite frankly I’ll never even read this thing. I did it all in one take sitting in the middle of a dark class room in my Theater School on campus because sometimes to get out of creative blocks, you need to set yourself somewhere completely new.
I'‘m really telling this to you as I sit in a ginormous lecture room with a desk in the middle and my computer on it and no lights on, just the lights from the buildings outside shining in.
But maybe this is what I needed.
This will get me out of the block, and over the hump, and back into doing creative work.
I have a lot i want to write about.
And as a joke I still want to be a youtuber becuase I know it’ll be easy to get really popular on there and just meme everyone in the internet world that doesn’t know how to live like a real person.
But that’s for another day.
So overall. Life is going great.
I had a beautiful summer since we’ve spoken last, and the best 4 month Great Escape of my life.
I’m back into a very productive every day work flow and to be honest I’ve never been happier.
I haven’t missed a single class since the semester started, haven’t gotten on any flights at all, started three new very cool businesses that are doing awesome, and I’m really fucking happy.
I’ve taken every aspect that I’ve learned makes me happy in life from the past few months and just applied it to my every day life and everything is going amazing.
So yeah. That’s that.
If you read through this all, I guess I owe you a thanks?
Maybe the thanks is because you’e probably read all my other stuff and you were one of the hundreds of people that DM’d me asking to write more.
Which I will. Because I love doing this stuff. And I just got really blessed with this natural talent to write exactly how I talk, and it flows very well. Most kids can’t do that, so I’m glad I can be the person who actually can and actually does.
I guess I don’t know how to really end it.
I have exams this week. And I have a 4.0 thus far this semester. Pretty snazzy!
I’ll be back in LA next week for a little bit working on stuff and hanging out seeing my friends and going back to living like a kid for a few minutes.
But for now, I’ll leave you with this.
If there’s anything you should ever be able to take away from what I tell you, or what I stand for, it’s just to be yourself. At the end of the day, you go to bed by yourself and you wake up by yourself. How you live your life is totally up to you. And please, don’t get carried away with the internet shit. It’s fun, yeah, but guess what, the internet you isn’t the real life you.
Don’t get carried away trying to be someone you’re not.
See you guys uhhhhh, soon. Thanks for listening.