Grls I Know - Amy

Describe yourself without mentioning work. 

I’m a 29-year old woman living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I create a Google doc for every organizational problem, and a playlist for every mood and occasion. I've never met a dog I didn't like. I'm a super planner who is learning to go with the flow.

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Sayville which is on the south shore of Long Island. It’s a cute little town right on the beach. It’s one of the ferry stops for Fire Island which is usually how people know it, if they know it at all. It was a nice place to grow up. I wouldn’t want to live there again, necessarily. My parents still live there and I like to visit it. There’s a little Main Street and everything.

How long have you lived in New York City? 

I’ve lived in New York state my whole life, but I’ve lived in the city since 2005. I went to NYU. I lived in the East Village for two years in the dorms as well as the West Village and Lower East Side. I lived in Lower East Side for two months which I’ll tell you about another time - it involved a shady sublet with a girl who ended up getting arrested and going to Rikers. After that, I moved to Williamsburg in 2007. I lived in a sublet there for a few months and then I moved into the apartment I’m in now. So, I’ve lived in my current apartment for eight years, which is crazy.

Tell me what it's like living in New York.

I grew up in Long Island, so coming into “the city” was what you did for fun. As a teenager, you’d go with your family to a fun restaurant or Broadway show. When I got older my friends and I would go to shows without our parents, which was always a big deal. I went to see The Strokes [like four times I think]. It’s interesting because I grew up always wanting to live in New York City, which is weird because I had access to it. I romanticized it. I still feel the same way now. It still has a bit of romanticism to me. I’m still on that precipice of loving New York. I take a lot of its bullshit and maybe one day I won’t want to, but for now it’s worth it. It’s worth it for the $14 cocktails.

In light of the recent election, how does it feel to be a woman in the United States right now?

It feels complex. There’s a lot of anxiety and fear because A) what the fuck and B) what is this going to mean? I wrote my first and only political Facebook post when I was very drunk on election night, before he was officially announced as the winner. I started to realize what was going to happen so I drunkenly word-vomited on Facebook about Hillary and her amazing campaign. The most amazing thing about it to me was how many women I saw galvanized and inspired by her, how many women she empowered. So if anything, I think it’s a little scary but I feel like Hillary’s campaign has made a lot of women more prepared to deal with what’s about to come because we’ve had these months of building each other up and realizing we’re important. She helped us find our voice.

Did you have any strong female influences growing up?

Yes. My mom is definitely my biggest female influence. One thing that I love about my mom - and she’s always been like this and still is - she’s no bullshit. She will always tell you how she feels and is not apologetic about it. I remember feeling - not embarrassed - but overwhelmed by it when I was younger. If I was dealing with a mean girl in elementary school my mom would just say, “Well, just tell her this!” and I’d say, “Mom, I can't tell a bully that they’re hurting my feelings.” And she’d tell me I could. As I’ve grown up I’ve internalized that a lot more and it’s given me confidence especially in professional settings. I always want to tell people, “Do you know whose daughter you're talking to?” I don’t always come across as assertive as I am, and I kind of like it. I don’t let people walk all over me and it’s because of her. It’s not feminine or unfeminine. I never thought of it that way. It’s just who I am as a person. I stand up for myself because that’s what I modeled from my mom.

 

Does ‘being a woman’ feel like an active always-present part of your life, or is it not necessarily something that influences your day to day? Or, neither?

It’s always a thread or a subtext, and it changes from whether that's a frustrating thing or a fun thing or any number of things. It can be really awesome because I know so many wonderful, supportive women. But there are also the frustrating parts of it - when I find myself ranging from annoyed to scared because I have to deal with strange men. Whether it’s on the subway or the street, I always have to be cognizant of being a woman. I’m not necessarily as safe as I would be if I were a man. Trying to deal with it practically instead of getting mad can be a challenge. I have to recognize that I’m not invincible. Just because I think I’m safe doesn’t mean I necessarily am. Then there’s work - another rabbit hole to go down! Trying to be communicative or collaborative in ways that are beneficial but also standing up for yourself and being heard is a real balancing act. It’s that frustrating challenge of trying to be likable and assertive at the same time, which I think is something women definitely have to deal with more often than men.

What’s your experience with female friendships? I have some girlfriends who come from big girl gangs and others who have single close friends all over the place.

I have four best friends from childhood that I still see all the time. It’s so incredible to think we were in first grade together and now we talk about the fact that one of them is getting married. I have friends from college, work, and all over the place. I have so many incredible female friends and I love the camaraderie/sorority/coven vibe that we have. It’s this indescribable circle of shared experience and support that I really love. I feel like I have it in so many circles. I pick them up as I go. I gather them.

Does it feel easier or harder to make female friendships as you get older?

I personally have found it to be easier. I think because I have so many female friends and I really value and cherish them. As I get older, I know what I admire in other women and it’s easier to find like-minded individuals and know if you’ll connect. My friends from childhood, our common thread is that we grew up together and knowing that we’ve been together for 20+ years. My female friends now, what connects us is something really forefront in our lives - we all work in the same industry and experience the same struggles, so it’s a more immediate base that connects us. I don’t even know if I make male friends any more. It’s not that I’m going out of my way to not to make those friendships but I don’t find them to be as immediate. Women are just more fun to be friends with.

Is there anything you wish women would talk about more with each other?

It’s a good question. Across all the different groups of friends that I have, they tend to be really forthcoming. If there’s something I don’t talk about with one group, I’ll talk about with the other. Also - I’m in a book club! I forgot to mention that group. They’re so cool. They’re all women that I didn’t know at all until my friend asked me to be part of it, and even she was just an acquaintance at the time. We barely hang out outside out of book club, but a few times a year we all get together in our little bubble of book club which makes it safe to be open about everything.

Money is a big thing, too. As I’ve gotten older and closer with friends, I have some that will be more forthcoming about it, but in terms of finding work and trying to understand what your financial value is, that would be something that I wish there was less of a taboo or sensitivity around. That information is so powerful. There’s so much self-worth wrapped up in salary, which I think is why we don’t talk about it more. We don’t want to compare ourselves to each other.

 

Tell me about your first job.

I worked at an insurance company in my town. I was a receptionist that filed papers and answered the phone. That’s pretty much it. I made $7/hour and it felt like so much money.

What is your job now?

I left my full-time job a few weeks ago, am venturing into the freelance world. So I’m currently a freelance creative producer.

What motivates you to work hard?

My main motivation is the opportunity to design my life. I sincerely enjoy working, and working hard, so I want to balance that with areas beyond work — family, friends, relationship, travel, creativity — so I have more agency over how and where I spend my time.

What advice would you give to young women starting out in your field (or any field) - or maybe even to your younger self?

There are a few things I’d say, because I give my younger sister career advice all the time whether she likes it or not. One thing I always say to her - our dad taught me this - is, just have the conversation. Don’t just wait around for a raise. Ask for it. Don’t be afraid to communicate what your value is. That’s a really big one and it’s hard with people who are just entering the workforce. You don’t realize the value you bring to a company, you don’t have any context for how replaceable or not replaceable you are. One thing I always tell my sister when she’s afraid to ask for a raise or a new opportunity is: In most cases, it’s a lot harder and more expensive for your boss to find a replacement and train them than it is to give you a raise. It’s always worth asking. I’ve never heard of someone asking for more money and then getting fired. It’s really not as scary as you think it’s going to be. You have to represent yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.

 

What (or who?) is your spirit animal?

Iced Coffee. I haven’t gone a day without one in nine years.

What song have you been playing on loop lately?

‘Freedom’ by Beyonce. I have been listening to it a lot lately and it became a lot more poignant with all the Trump bullshit.

Dinner with any celebrity (living or dead)?

Jeff Goldblum. He’s my biggest celebrity crush. Or JC Chasez. He’s still my number one.

What was your first concert?

The first concert I remember going to was Bruce Hornsby. But the first one that I went to that I actually wanted to go to was NSYNC. I went five more times after that.

What was your most recent concert?

I saw Local Natives at Terminal 5 a few weeks ago. They’re one of my favorites.

Guiltiest pleasure?

I’ve seen every single episode of 'Say Yes To The Dress'.

I like to think of all my girlfriends as being part of a magical coven of strong, independent witches. As a witch, what would you say is your biggest power?

One thing that I’ve tried to do a lot of especially over the last few years with myself and my friends is offer encouragement. When I see my friends, or any women that I respect and love, and they aren’t treating themselves the way I wish they would - the way they deserve to be treated - I really try to shake them into thinking of themselves as the way they would if they were their own friend. “Would you be saying the shitty things that you’re saying about yourself, if you were saying them to me?” It always puts things in perspective and it’s helped me learn to take my own advice. I think I’m good at offering affirmation. We’re all in this together.

'GRLS I KNOW' is an interview series published weekly on Monday mornings.

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