Today I’m grateful for cicadas. Yes, cicadas. I recently read an article that analyzed our political world the last time the cicadas were among us. (It’s sadly very similar.) That got me thinking about my own life 17 years ago. I’m proud to say I’ve come a long way, baby! And that happily some wonderful things in my life are still the same.
17 years ago, I was 20 years old and had just finished my sophomore year of college. I had been thinking all year of transferring to a different college (Northwestern) and decided against it because I finally found my pack at Penn in the theatre community. I had just costume designed my first theatre production – 42nd Street. A year later, I would be elected as Chair of my theatre group – Quadramics Theatre Company. I made plans to move to Arts House Living Learning Program, another place where I would find my groove and make my home for the next two years. I began to turn my attention to my life post-Penn, and decided to pursue a career in theatre in some shape or form.
Personally, I had just left a 2-year relationship with my boyfriend at the time. There would be some hefty fall out from that but it also gave me a tremendous sense of freedom to be out of a relationship that began to feel burdensome and lacked authenticity. My adventures in love continued, and continue to this day, though I’ve never lost hope. He’s getting here as fast as he can, whoever “he” is. I believed that then and I believe that now.
I went home that summer and it would be the last time that I’d ever go to my childhood home for any reason other than to visit. I didn’t know that then, but it became clear to me by the end of the summer that my life was taking me elsewhere. I worked three jobs – as a cocktail waitress (I was a terrible waitress), a restaurant hostess at the Ground Round (I was good at greeting and seating), and an assistant to a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch (I was very good at research and I loved being able to help people be more financially secure.) I really needed the money to continue to self-fund my education at Penn and I was motivated to learn as much as I could about business as I sensed that my career, even in theatre, would require those skills.
It makes my head spin to think how different my life was then. I feel financially and personally secure now. That dream came true. It also amazes me how similar I am to that 20-year old woman. What I value most – people, service, and learning – is largely unchanged. Then, my greatest wish was to be useful, to do something that would be important for other people. 17 years later, I’m still hard at work on that mission, and I imagine that when the cicadas pay us a visit next time I’ll still be plugging away at it one day at a time.
Published by Christa Avampato
The short of it:
Writer. Health, education, and art advocate. Theater and film producer. Visual artist. Product geek. Proud alumnae of the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia (MBA). Inspired by ancient wisdom & modern tech. Proliferator of goodness. Opener of doors. Friend to animals. Fan of creative work in all its wondrous forms. I use my business skills to create passion projects that build a better world. I’ve been called the happiest New Yorker, and I try hard to live up to that title every day.
The long of it:
My career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, entertainment, technology, and financial services. I’ve been a product developer and product manager, theater manager, strategic consultant, marketer, voice over artist, , teacher, and fundraiser. I use my business and storytelling to support and sustain passion projects that build a better world. In every experience, I’ve used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, programs, and events.
While building a business career, I also built a strong portfolio as a journalist, novelist, freelance writer, interviewer, presenter, and public speaker. My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, PBS.org, Boston.com, Royal Media Partners publications, and The Motley Fool on a wide range of topics including business, technology, science, health, education, culture, and lifestyle. I have also been an invited speaker at SXSW, Teach for America, Avon headquarters, Games for Change, NYU, Columbia University, Hunter College, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The first book in my young adult book series, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, was acquired by a publisher and launched in November 2017. I’m currently working on the second book in the series.
A recovering multi-tasker, I’m equally at home in front of my Mac, on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I also cut up small bits of paper and put them back together as a collage artist.
I’m bringing together all of my business and creative career paths as the Founder of Double or Nothing Media:
• I craft products, programs, and projects that make a difference;
• I build the business plans that make what I craft financially sustainable;
• I tell the stories that matter about the people, places, and products that inspire me.
Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.
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