Being a twenty-something means spending a lot of your time just “trying to figure it out.” Ally Petitti can attest to that. By her early twenties, she had already made the cross-country move from her hometown of Westchester, New York to Los Angeles, gotten a degree from USC, landed a job at Interscope Records, and found herself in a situation that seemed to indicate that there was nowhere to go for her but up.
But instead, Petitti came to the conclusion that her trajectory wasn’t going to be sustainable. She left the music industry behind and brought her “many experiences and stories” to Trying to Figure It Out, the podcast she started just shy of a year ago. There, she discusses the universal obstacles that threaten to “impede, deter, or outright destroy us” with a roster of guests that has ranged from Jordyn Jones to Colby Kissinger.
With Trying to Figure It Out, Petitti creates the safe and open space that she herself has needed throughout her life, encouraging her guests and listeners alike to feel heard and – above all – validated. The Untitled Magazine chatted with Ally Petitti about the things that led to Trying to Figure It Out, the importance of opening up, and the larger mission she’s on as a podcast host. Read the full interview below.
Can you tell us about your start in the industry and what attracted you to a career in entertainment?
I always knew I wanted to work in the entertainment industry. Most of my family is involved in entertainment, and I knew that was the path I wanted to follow; I just did not know what way. I knew I would work in a creative field, but I never envisioned myself starting a podcast. I think the podcast idea came after feeling like I had so many experiences and stories to share, but didn’t really know how. I love being able to be my most authentic self and share that with my listeners and find ways to continue growing my platform.
As a graduate of USC, how did your time there prepare you for what you’re doing now?
I think being a student at USC allowed me to really learn and explore Los Angeles. I was a music industry major, and that really allowed me to kickstart my career in entertainment. I worked several music industry jobs, and then that led me to start my podcast.
What were some of your goals when you first moved out to LA?
To be my most authentic self. I think where I grew up, it was not as normal to dye your hair fun colors, have crazy nails, wear more eclectic clothing, and I always felt like in LA you could be whoever you wanted to be. I felt like I always had a bit more of an “extra” personality and coming out to LA, all I wanted was to explore who I really was, and I think I’ve definitely gotten to find that here.
How did the transition from the music industry into podcasting happen for you?
I worked a job that was emotionally and physically very demanding for me. As someone who has struggled with my mental health since I was a kid, I thought I had it all figured out. I knew I had panic disorder, I knew I had anxiety, but I never knew how much I had not known I was also struggling with. After working in an industry that can be very intense, I realized how much more I needed to work on, learn, and help myself with, and that really brought me to starting Trying to Figure It Out.
What inspired you to launch your podcast? Was it an ah-ha moment?
I was talking to a mentor when I was going through one of the hardest times in my life. I told her I felt like my stories were so crazy and that I had so many to tell, and I just needed another outlet that wasn’t therapy. She suggested I start a podcast and the rest unfolded from there.
You’ve been producing Trying to Figure It Out for nearly a year now. What have been some of the highlights of hosting your own podcast?
I think hosting my own podcast has taught me so much. I have learned so much about myself, my guests, mental health, and life – and also have learned so much more about the entertainment industry not solely revolving around music. I think I feel so much less alone sharing my stories, and I know my listeners feel like they have someone to relate to on things that aren’t always talked about publicly.
The series focuses on mental health and many of the issues people face surrounding that subject. Did you have personal reasons for making mental health subjects the focus of your podcast?
I do. I have struggled with my mental health since I was six years old. I have a panic disorder, anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and all of these things have to be treated and handled in totally different ways. I think that all of these things really led me to want to share my journey and also learn about other people’s journeys. I am in no way a professional, TTFIO really aims to talk about these things person to person – just a space to relate and be open about more taboo subjects. I talk a lot about how all the things that happen to us in the journey of life truly impact our mental health and wellbeing and aid to help other people feel less alone.
You fearlessly share many of your own struggles on the show. Can you tell us what some of the biggest challenges have been for you in the last few years?
The last few years have been a whirlwind. I have had a lot of moments where I think to myself that I just can’t catch a break. Those moments really led me to TTFIO because I realized that I don’t want to be the person who pities themselves, or who thinks that bad things happen to them. Instead, I am realizing that this is truly just life, and we have to just fight through it and learn to accept all the ebbs and flows. I have struggled with physical health issues, such as a pituitary tumor and PCOS, and also have struggled with abuse and trauma as well. So, it has been a lot to cope with, and my podcast has been such a saving grace through all of it.
Has anything surprised you since you started the show?
I think just how quickly it has grown and how important it has become to my life overall. It has really helped me so much more mentally than I ever could have anticipated.
Can you share with us one of your favorite episodes that resonates with you the most?
I think one of my favorite episodes was with Haley Jakobson. That episode was so special for me for many reasons, and while I normally try to create a safe space for my guests to share, she actually created a safe space for me as well and the interview felt extremely rewarding.
Looking forward, what are some of the goals you have for Trying to Figure It Out?
I just want to continue to help people, learn more about myself, and figure out how to grow the podcast into something even bigger. We have some really exciting and special guests lined up that I cannot wait to share.
You dedicate much of your platform to destigmatizing mental health conversations and advocating for positive change. What does positive change look like to you?
To me, positive change is debunking the use of SSRIs, normalizing therapy, better access all around to mental healthcare, and just destigmatizing the entire notion that people who are anxious or sad should “just stop.” It is so much deeper than that, and once we start recognizing these struggles as real illnesses, maybe people will be able to strip away their negative beliefs surrounding it.
Beyond mental health, you’re also an advocate for the homeless and those affected by cancer. Do you have a personal connection to these issues?
It has always been extremely important for me to give back. Growing up outside of New York City, I did a lot of work with the homeless, and my mom has always been involved in many different cancer organizations. So, those have always been extremely important to me – to do whatever I can to give back.
What’s next for you in 2023? Anything exciting in the works?
Lots of surprises – this next batch of episodes are ones that I am really proud of, and I just can’t wait to start putting more episodes out into the world.
For more from Ally Petitti, follow her socials: Instagram | YouTube | TikTok