Having it Alt is a blog for people obsessed with living authentically, who care more about fulfillment than “success.” Here’s our manifesto.
Hi. I’m Amanda Hirsch. I’m a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. I’m married to my high school sweetheart, Jordan. We do a two-person improv comedy show called Til Death that makes fun of being an old married couple. We also lead workshops applying improv concepts to life and work. None of the above pays the bills (yet), so I’m also a content and communications consultant to nonprofits, indie media companies and people I believe in, including PBS, NPR, TED, the George Lucas Educational Foundation and Sundance board chair Pat Mitchell. Jordan and I have a daughter, Alison, and a rescue pup, Clover. I’m on Twitter at @amanda_hirsch and Instagram as @iamamandahirsch.
The longer backstory
It all started when I left college for a semester. I had spent my young life up to that point playing by the rules — a straight-A student who got her homework done ahead of time, never bucking convention. Now, away from home, with a few sociology courses under my belt, I was obsessed with knowing the purpose of everything, and if I didn’t know the purpose, I couldn’t play along. (I was also clinically depressed, something it would take me almost a decade to realize.)
I left school in the middle of a weekday, when I could no longer bear the effort of going through the motions. “You need to get on a train and go home,” my friend Kate counseled, and I did. When I came back the next semester, it was on my own terms. A teacher assigned a standard essay; I asked if I could write a play, instead. I began an independent study, which resulted in a proposal for a new freshman course encouraging students to define what they hoped to achieve in college, and to design a course of study accordingly.
I was reaching towards mindfulness, years before my first yoga class. I was making things up as I went, long before I found the art of improv comedy.
I was carving my own path, for the first time.
I have continued to carve my own path, shaping a life that expresses my values and passions, rather than conforming to a pre-determined script.
I do not hold myself up as an example of perfect authenticity. Far from it. I am not immune to the pressures of other people’s expectations, or to media, which bombards me daily with messages about who I’m supposed to be, and what I’m supposed to want: Tight abs, 30-minute weeknight suppers, a thriving career, and babies with Pinterest-worthy bedrooms (standards I spoofed for a while via an alter ego I created named Melody Bell). Amidst that noise, carving out the space to tune into what I really want frankly feels like a radical act, or at the very least, a difficult one. When I manage to do it, I’m proud of myself. When I don’t, I try to find my way back, because I truly believe that each of us is meant to shine in our own way…and that the world needs us to do so.
These are my words to live by:
I hope it helps you to read Having it Alt; I know it helps me to write it.
The older I get, the more I realize how essential female friendship and community is to my sanity and strength. I’m so glad you’re here.
I’d love to hear from you. Say hi, tell me what speaks to you about Having it Alt, and share any ideas or requests you might have about what the site should cover.