Did you expect anything different???

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Although, professionally, I call myself a writer, I like to use periods as infrequently as possible. Texts, tweets, non-work emails: Nary a period in sight. I only utilize periods in my work out of respect for my editors and the people who choose to glance at my work.

Where periods are lacking, I more than make up for it with extraneous exclamation points, question marks, and ellipses. I fully subscribe to the school of thought that there can never be too many exclamation points in an email; use any fewer than four and I’m going to assume you hate me…


Hearing ‘no’ can be a good thing

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A few weeks ago, I taught my first course on one of the fundamentals of a freelance writing career: pitching. As much strategy as substance, a good pitch is the gateway to a successful freelance career. But, I told my students, regardless of how skilled you are at the art of pitching, rejection is inevitable. Often for powers beyond our control and sometimes for powers within our control (Who among us hasn’t fired off a half-baked idea?), we’ll get a pass on a story that we swore was a winner.

And these rejections hurt, regardless of experience and length of…


People are much more than how they earn a paycheck

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One of my favorite icebreakers is to ask a stranger to tell me the worst thing they’ve ever done. Most of the time my conversation partner is taken aback, stumped, or left profoundly uncomfortable as they mine the archives of their life searching for a suitable answer. It’s not so much that I’m dying to know everyone’s worst sins but it’s a shocking enough conversation starter that very quickly morphs into meaningful discussion. Discussion that doesn’t involve what we do for work.

Without fail, nearly every time I meet a new person, the question, “So what do you do for…


It’s all about choice, intentionality, and frequency

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During this Great Social Reset period, Americans are rediscovering what it means to be a social human. What are friends? What do I do with them? Do I have any left? While getting reacquainted with our social circles is undoubtedly going to be awkward — and exhaustingnew research shows that maintaining friendships is easier if hanging with friends becomes a part of our routine.

Jeffrey Hall, a professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, and his colleagues surveyed 127 adults about their social interactions over the course of a week in 2018. At five points during…


Early to bed, early to rise is wise indeed

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I’d like to consider myself a morning person: I revel in the stillness of the city in the hours before everyone has risen, I enjoy the accomplishment of finishing a run before most people fire off their first email of the day, and there’s nothing better than the reward of an early bedtime. Yet, the thought of setting a pre-sunrise alarm sends a chill down my spine. …


Now is the time for making friends, not ditching them

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Time for an obvious truth: The pandemic put friendships through the wringer. We were physically separated, forced to make the hard choices of who to include in our quarantine pods, and sometimes too exhausted to keep up the Zoom happy hours — leading some people (myself included) to wonder if they had any friends left at all.

Now that the worst of the crisis is hopefully behind us, many are reevaluating who they want to be, and who they want to surround themselves with, on the other side. …


Social distancing made meeting new people difficult — but not impossible

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Last year, as social distancing made socializing virtually impossible, people got creative with how they kept in touch with others: Instagram dance parties, Zoom theater classes, apps designed for random connection. Although many digital tools simplified connecting with people we already knew, they also empowered some to forge new friendships, too. Better still, these online platforms helped bring virtual bonds into the IRL world. Despite the social challenges the pandemic wrought — no more friend-of-a-friend introductions at parties for a while — people did manage to make new friends. Here’s how seven people say they did it.

Interviews have been…


The restorative power of coming back to small, silly pre-pandemic rituals

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During the summer of 2016, I covered nine music festivals. Beyond being a completely exhausting summer for my eardrums, my feet also took a beating. As a person who prefers to wear Birkenstocks over any other type of shoe, including to music festivals, my feet had acquired a lovely coating of dirt and grime by the end of the day.

That summer, I engaged in a silly little practice I like to call my evening foot washes. Rather than take a full shower — which would’ve solved the dirty feet problem and then some — I’d climb into bed with…


People will continue to judge based on assumptions and notions of high-risk behavior

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In the background of a global health crisis has been a pandemic of shaming. Your neighbors had a party at the height of the winter surge. College friends posted pictures from their winter ski getaway. A distant cousin had a maskless indoor wedding. The context of the pandemic turned shaming into a competitive, and public, sport.

At the height of the pandemic, this stringent policing of others was logical, or at least understandable: When there’s a threat of disease, people tend to be more morally vigilant, according to a 2017 study. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from last…


Humans need a balanced social diet of a few meaningful conversations and many casual interactions

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Balance is a celebrated, yet elusive, concept. In work, relationships, hobbies, and even what we choose to put into our bodies, we strive to strike the right proportion of give and take that leaves us feeling fulfilled and not overextended. The idea of balance also applies to social interactions.

In 2019, Jeffrey Hall, a professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas likened human social networks to nutrition. A healthy social diet, he found in a study, consists of both a variety of interactions — from close friends and family to acquaintances — and time spent alone. People tend…

Allie Volpe

Writes about lifestyle, trends, and pop psychology for The Atlantic, New York Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Washington Post, and more.

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