Tag Archives: life after college

4 Signs You’re Not Leadership Material

23 Mar

leadership material

I don’t know who came up with this extremely popular notion of promoting employees into leadership positions based on tenure, but to whoever’s responsible..stupid idea, bro.

The truth of the matter is this…

NOT EVERYONE’S LEADERSHIP MATERIAL…

And that’s okay!

Just because you’re a genius in your field…

Just because you’ve been at your job for twenty-some odd years…

It doesn’t mean you have to have direct reports. 

It takes really particular skills to be a manager.

Heck- it takes a whole lot of patience too.

And for that reason, throughout my career I’ve been absolutely dumfounded when I’ve seen some not-so-leadership-material employees placed in managerial positions.

Let me say it again.

IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE!

And like I said…that’s okay.

You can still be a genius.

You can still be kick-ass at your job.

But if you’re not leadership material, please, for God’s sake…don’t make other people suffer. 

Now some of you may be wondering whether or not you’re leadership material.

(But really…those of you who aren’t…you probably already know that.)

Just in case though…to clarify this for everyone…here are 4 Signs that You’re Not Leadership Material.

1. You Have Zero Social Skills/You Hate People

People say hi to you and you stare at them, but you don’t say hi back. You don’t hold doors open for people 5 centimeters behind you. You know…basic courtesy kind of stuff.

If you’re the kind of person who avoids social situations at all costs and really doesn’t want to be troubled with interpersonal relationships, then that’s fine…but you have no business managing others. This is pretty self-explanitory.

2. You Don’t Like It When People Ask You Questions

Questions annoy you. When people ask you dumb questions that you think they ought to know the answers to, you think they’re stupid…you think that they are mentally challenged. Every time that someone asks you a question, you feel that they’re taking time away from you doing your own work. Open door policy? Forget that! Locked door policy is what you’d implement…peace and quiet is what you need.

Good managers want their employees to feel comfortable coming to them whenever they have questions. And the reality is, good employees do ask a lot of questions. Managers need to accept that part of their job is helping out their direct reports, and they shouldn’t make them feel bad about seeking that support.

3. You Couldn’t Care Less if Your Team is Motivated/Inspired

You’re sure as hell no cheerleader. You don’t think it’s your job to motivate those around you. You’re here to get a job done and everyone should be on the same page as you.

FALSE. Managers need to be cheerleaders. If it’s not written in the job description, someone’s lying to you. If you want your team to work well and to perform to the best of its ability, you’ll need to take out those metaphorical pom-poms at times and inspire your people. Because let’s face it, there are times at any job when morale is low. And when morale is low, not a whole lot of work gets done. Teams that get out of that slump are the teams who have great leaders, and believe me, they’re super grateful for that. Look into it…they call it transformational leadership. 

4. You Want to Punch Positive People in the Face

You hate it when people smile. You hate it when you come to work Monday morning and people are actually happy. What the heck is wrong with them? They ought to be a bit less peppy.

If you’re a negative Nancy, you have no business managing others. You need to be a positive influence, and people need to actually enjoy being around you. Do you have to do backflips everyday and sing songs? No. But you should strive to be a positive role model for others and part of that means helping others see the bright side of things regardless of how bad any work situation is.

***Now it’s your turn…what else makes someone not leadership material?

Other stuff you might like:

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5 Reasons Why This Twenty-Something LOVES Her New Job

6 Feb

Work Hard Have Fun No Drama I’ve been at my new job for 8 months now, and really… I can’t even begin to tell you how crazy-fast time has gone by. One minute I’m interviewing and BAM!!! Here I am almost a year into it. Taking this new job was a huge leap for me. For starters, I knew nothing about the industry. While most people being interviewed had years of experience doing the job at other companies… I. Had. Zero. But man was I willing to learn! People warned me. People told me the job would be terrible. People asked me if it was really something that I wanted to do. And although I didn’t know much, I knew that it was an exciting opportunity and that I needed a new challenge. 8 months later, I thank God every day that I made that jump. So to help explain exactly why I’m so happy, here are 5 reasons why THIS 20-something LOVES her new job…

  1. I’m Surrounded By People Who Are Willing to Teach Me

Like I said, I was a newbie. I accepted a job as a Contract Administrator in a large Supply Chain department and I didn’t even know what a backorder was. This could have been a total failure. But it wasn’t. And you know why? Because the people around me are really freaking awesome. Because from the minute I stepped foot in this department, my co-workers took me under their wings and they taught me everything they know. Because they were secure enough in their own abilities and talents that they didn’t feel threatened by the thought of sharing what they’ve learned over the years. And I’m eternally grateful for that.

  1. We’re Treated Like Adults

Imagine a workplace where you can go to the bathroom without your boss staring at his computer counting the number of minutes that you’re away from your desk. Imagine a workplace where you can go to work and if you need to leave to a doctor’s appointment or to pick up your sick kid, you can do that and no one gives you a hard time about it. We can do that here. After a really hectic morning we can go have a nice lunch off campus, come back to work, and we’re not looked down upon for taking a break. It’s kind of awesome. We’re treated like adults. And you might be thinking well yea, we should be treated like adults since that’s what we ARE, but you’d be surprised how absolutely rare this kind of work environment is. We’re treated like professionals and even though we may not be at our desks glued to our chairs every moment of every day, everyone knows that we’ll get the job done. We always do.

  1. Our Work/Play Balance is all Sorts of Fantastic

You can go to work, work super hard, and have fun doing it. It’s true, I promise! And although I’ve questioned this notion in the past, I swear on my life I’ve never had so much fun at work. And you might think okay… she’s a contract administrator…sounds kinda super lame and boring. But dude, we laugh and we joke and we have so much fun. And the best part about it is that even though we laugh and we have a good time, we’re still taken seriously because we produce excellent work. I don’t think you have to be miserable and serious all the time to be considered a professional. I think that you can work and play and play while you work. Because really, if you don’t, it’s so easy to go crazy.

  1. My Bosses Are Approachable, Nice Human Beings

It’s not something that I take for granted. My bosses are really one of a kind. They’re legit humans. Like… super- down- to -earth –real- people- who- have- feelings- and- know- that- I –have- feelings –and- so- they’re- nice- and- not- mean-and- they- don’t- scream- at- me- and- belittle- me- and- make- me- feel- like- I’m- stupid. In a nutshell. Do they do their jobs? Yes! Really well, in fact. Do they tell me when I’ve made a mistake and help me fix it? Yep. Do they provide guidance? All the time. But do they have huge egos? No. Do they walk around thinking they’re better than anyone? No. Do they scream and yell and embarrass their employees? Never. And that’s why I love working for them. They have an open door policy and we can talk to them about anything whenever we need to and we’re not scared of them, because they’re super cool. I mean, on what planet should we have to be scared of our bosses? How does that make us perform better? If you figure that out, let me know. But in the meantime, I’ll stick to working for bosses who really know how to lead.

  1. They Took A Chance on Me

I’m like 500% positive that there are people who would have never hired me for this position. There are managers who would have taken one look at my resume and would have thrown it in the trash simply because I didn’t have experience in this field. But my leadership took a chance on me. They decided that I had potential and that I could be taught, and so they were willing to invest in me. They were willing to give me a shot and by giving me that shot, I feel the need to prove to them every day that they made the right decision. I respect them so much for that, and I feel so lucky every day to be a part of this kick-ass team. Other stuff you might like:

Four Ways Millennials Can Be Happier Right This Minute

23 Jun

happy-happiness-millennials

So tell me, are you happy?

Like, honestly… happy?

Do you even know what happiness is, really?

Or are you like most of us… stressed out all the time?

Do you spend hours in your room crying because life isn’t working out the way you thought it would?

Because if the answer is yes, I’m going to tell you right now…you gotta stop doing that.

Our twenties are a mess.

A legit freaking mess.

We’re constantly stressed out and confused and don’t really know what to do with our lives.

Then, the real-world welcomes us with an even bigger slap in the face.

We’re suddenly wearing five different hats…

We’re suddenly juggling 700,000 responsibilities at once…

Of course, it’s stressful.

And it sucks.

Big time.

Mostly because we’ve been taught our whole lives that things are supposed to get better as time goes by.

Not worse.

The older we get… the happier we become. So we’ve been told.

Because, you know… when we get older, we graduate college and we get awesome jobs and we get married and we have the cutest kids and everything is wonderful.

That’s the story we’ve told since before we can remember.

But the truth is this…

We don’t just somehow get happier.

We don’t just wake up one day and feel happier.

It doesn’t happen like that.

Happiness isn’t a given.

It takes work.

It takes time.

And most importantly, it takes some serious self-reflection.

So in the meantime, while you’re figuring out what makes you happy and what doesn’t, here are a few things we can all do to make our lives a little bit better…

To make things a little more bearable…

Because we really can be happier.

Right. This. Very. Minute.

And I refuse to accept anything other than that.

1. Stop living in the future  

Today isn’t tomorrow. Today isn’t five years from now. Today is today, so enjoy it. Sure, we should all have dreams, but we need to make an effort to stop living our lives completely in the future. We spend so much time thinking about and planning for the future that we often miss out on so much of the present. Focus on what’s in front of you. It’ll be gone before you know it.

2. Stop buying so much stuff

Money lets you buy things. And sure, things are great. But you know what’s even better? People. Relationships. Experiences. Stop spending so much money on things that’ll end up in the trash next year. You know you don’t need half the things you have in your closet. Instead, save money. Give yourself that peace of mind. Instead, use that money to visit your family. Use that money to travel. But infinite amounts of clothes and shoes and electronics? Such a waste.

3. Stop seeking everyone’s approval

You can’t get everyone to like you. There. End of story. Now stop trying to please everyone. Do things for yourself. I promise you, it’s probably the best thing you can do right now if you ever want to live a happy life.

4. Stop second guessing yourself all the time

Ugh. Should I? Shouldn’t I? But… what if…all these questions ultimately lead to inaction. Listen to your gut. Learn to trust your intuition. If you want to do something, do it. Because if you second guess every move you want to make, you’ll never go anywhere, and how absolutely lame would that be?

Other stuff you might like:

 

Why It’s Okay To Be Excited About the Awesome Stuff You’re Doing

23 Apr

success-baby- graduation- excited

I’m not going to lie…

My life is pretty awesome right now.

Last night, I took my very last exam EVER!!!

And then I cried like a baby because I got super sentimental thinking about how my school-life is completely OVER.

I now feel very old.

Ancient, really.

But I’m also really happy because I can be a somewhat normal and functioning member of society again.

I can sleep and I can read and I can sleep some more.

Again, my life is awesome…and I’m pretty sure yours is too.

So I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about success and whether or not it’s like super braggy/bragish to tell people about the really cool stuff going on in our lives.

And here’s the conclusion I’ve come to…

People love to complain. People spend hours and hours and hours talking to everyone they know about just how awful things are.

Go to a bad restaraunt? Obviously, you’re going to complain about it to anyone who’ll listen.

Have a bad day? You’re going to complain regardless of whether or not anyone will listen.

And this, apparently, is acceptable.

So if we can accept the complaints and the negativity, then I see absolutely nothing wrong with sharing things that are awesome!

It’s definitely far more productive.

Now, you don’t need to be obnoxious. You don’t have to be like, “Oh, look at me…I’m better than you…you suck.”

That’s never cool.

But if you’ve worked hard and you’re on your way to living your dream and reaching your goals, heck…be proud of it!

Own it.

You’re allowed to be excited! You’re allowed to be proud of yourself!

Because if you don’t belive in your value and your success…

No one. Else. Will.

When it comes to your career, don’t be afraid to tell people about your accomplishments.

Especially us twentysomethings…we get it…we don’t have years and years of experience under our belts.

So for that specific reason, we have to make sure that the things we ARE doing…that we ARE accomplishing, we’re showcasing.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

And the peoploe who do have a problem with it?? Well, it’s probably because they don’t really have all that much going on anyway.

So don’t worry about them.

To all of you out there chasing your dreams, keep on going.

Don’t be shy to share your goals and your success. Who knows…maybe you’ll find that people are a lot more interested in helping you than you ever thought possible.

But how can they help you if no one knows what you’re chasing after?

Don’t be shy…if you’re working on something awesome, let me know!

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The 5 Most Valuable Lessons Grad School Taught Me

17 Mar

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I honestly can’t believe it. 43 days till I’m done with school… forever!!! There are no words to express how absolutely elated I am. No words at all.  

For the past two years, I’ve been working full time while pursuing my Master in Public Administration degree.

I’ve written paper after paper after paper…

I’ve had more group projects than really necessary…

And I’ve also been sleep-deprived (Dear God I so look forward to getting more sleep.)

So now that this chapter in my life is coming to a close, I thought I’d get drunk and celebrate  reflect on the most important things I’ve learned in Grad School. Because I really have learned a lot.

Not just about my field of study, but about life in general and about my future in the workplace.

And in writing this, I’m really really happy. I’m happy because I DO feel that I’ve learned things.

Two years and way too much money later, it really has been worth it.

1. It’s the quality of your work, not the quantity.

I’ll honestly never understand why some students feel the need to write 20 page papers when the professor asks for 5. I mean, come on… really? 15 extra pages?? Do you have nothing else to do? Some people really think that by writing more pages, they’ll get a better grade. It’s kind of funny actually. Some people think to themselves, “I have no idea what to write this paper about, but if I hand in a really big stack of paper, and write 10 extra pages, I’ll probably get a better grade than someone who hands in 5.” Well…um…it doesn’t work that way.

In both grad school and in the workplace, your teachers and your bosses are more often concerned with the quality of your work rather than the quantity. It’s all about efficiency, people… producing great quality work in the least amount of time. So you can be the student who spends 15 hours on a paper and turns in 15 pages, and yes, gets an A. Or, you could be the student who spends 3 hours on a paper, turns in 5 pages, and ALSO gets an A.

At the end of the day,  who’s more efficient?

It’s no secret that companies want efficient employees. It’s no secret that employers want great-quality work. So if you can find a way to be efficient with your time while still producing great quality, I’d say you’re pretty set in terms of life after college.

2. Importance of time management.

I don’t care if you have the world’s best memory…Nor do I care if you can memorize a whole deck of cards in under a minute. If you don’t have a calendar/planner/phone reminder system, you will fail miserably as an adult.

Like, big time.

Like I mentioned before, these past two years I’ve juggled work, school, my slowly-becoming-non-existent social life, a relationship, a house, crossfit, this blog, and my family.

Miraculously, I’ve managed to keep some of my sanity.

When you get to grown-up status, you realize just how crazy and hectic life becomes.Like, there’s really no time for anything. While in grad school, I’d go to work, then go to school, and by the time I got home, you know what I wanted to do? NOTHING!! Absolutely nothing!

I’ve been living a life of pure exhaustion.

But I’ve certainly found that having a planner helps organize my brain, because without it, I’d have zero idea about what I have to do.

So regardless of how crazy things get, make time-management a priority. It’s super important. Because as you get older, there’s a lot more to your life. More responsibilities, more to remember, more to accomplish. 

But I’m absolutely positive that if you organize yourself you can somehow become a fully-functioning member of society. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

3. Corporate America is very bad at implementing best practices.

This lesson makes me very sad. This lesson also makes me want to punch a giant hole in the wall and the only reason I don’t punch a giant hole in the wall is because I don’t have money to fix it if I did.

But anyway, this lesson that I’ve learned makes me extremely mad. Because I go to school and I read these massive books that are more often than not, quite boring. And then I write paper after paper after paper. And then somehow, throughout that process, I learn things. Through my Public Administration degree, I’ve learned about…you guessed it! Administration! Administration, and leadership, and organizational behavior. I’ve learned about HR practices and what it takes to run a company in the most ethical way possible.

I’ve learned and I’ve studied extensively about what the workplace SHOULD LOOK LIKE.

And then through my work experience, I’ve seen what it REALLY LOOKS LIKE.

Total opposites most of the time.

There’s so much dishonesty in the workplace and there’s a lot of poor leadership. That’s the reality. And it’s hard to deal with in a sense because knowing what I know, there are days when I just want to slap people and say, “Hellooooo?!?!?! What are you doing?!?!?! This is NOT how you’re supposed to do things! That’s not what I learned in my HR class!”

But I don’t slap people at work because that’s also one of the things I learned. You don’t slap people if you want to keep your job.

So what does that mean for us? What does that mean for us recent college grads? It means that we have a lot of work to do. It means that we’re going to see things that we don’t like in the workplace. And really, it’s up to us to do something about it.

Maybe we’re not in the position at this point in our careers to make a huge difference, but one day, when we can make decisions, we’ll need to make the right ones. Because, maybe naively, I still believe that the workplace can be a much better place if we fight for it.

4. People will surprise you.

When you’re in a class that requires you to complete a group project, you spend approximately 5 minutes praying that your group members are smart. So that’s what I did a few months ago and well, my prayer was not answered.

One of my teammates, let’s call her Ashley, had zero interest in the class we were taking. Why do I say that? Well, we had a quiz a few weeks into class and our professor allowed us to use a note card as a “cheat sheet” to write down stuff so we wouldn’t forget.

She was filling out her note card 3 minutes before the quiz.

Let’s see… she also rarely attended class. Then, the day of our group presentation, while our whole group showed up 15 minutes before class…she was late. We almost had to start without her. So obviously, my impression of Ashley was that she was the worst group member ever and that she wasn’t very smart.

A few weeks after our group presentation, we were doing another group project where our goal was to build the tallest structure using marshmallows and spaghetti… one of those team-building, hands-on kind of projects. And as time was almost up, my group had no idea what to do to get the marshmallow to stay at the top of the structure without knocking it down. Point is… Ashley had an idea. And you know what I did with her idea? I didn’t listen to it.

Not a single bit.

Because I had completely written this girl off as my incompetent teammate who shows up late and doesn’t study. So we obviously failed, we didn’t have the tallest structure. And when our professor briefed us on how we could have done better, that same idea Ashley had…that’s what he told us we should have done.

People will surprise you. Good ideas come from anywhere. So you need to be open to listening to them.

5.  Importance of a strong support system.

I’ve had serious panic attacks in the past. Like, I-can’t-breathe-I’m-never-going-to-finish-this-paper-but-it’s-my-own-fault-because-I-procrastinated- panic attacks. They’re not fun. There have been days when I’ve gone to work on 2.5-3 hours of sleep and I look and feel like a  zombie. It’s just like being drunk. Only I’m not drunk because I wasn’t able to go out and drink because I was finishing an assignment.

There have been days when I’ve felt like just quitting half-way. “So what if I’m only 9 credits away from graduation? I’m totally over this.”

And I definitely would have, if I didn’t have such a strong support system in my life.

I have an amazing family that has encouraged me my whole life really, but especially these past two years.  

My boyfriend, who I live with and love like crazy, has endured my mood swings, calmed me down during my panic attacks, and has reminded me that I’m not allowed to stop.

Must. Keep. Going.

So in 43 days when I graduate, I’m going to wear some weird dress/robe thing and I’m going to be handed by diploma, and I’m going to look out into the audience and I’m going to see my family and my boyfriend. And I’m going to feel so eternally grateful to have them in my life. Because without them, I know for a fact that I would have given up. I know that I wouldn’t have made it this far.

Because life in general is just way too crazy and too much for any one person to deal with alone.

Other stuff you might like:

Using Technology for Good

30 Jan

It used to be that we had to travel miles and miles to send a message.

Heck, people used to ride on horses for days to deliver a piece of paper (think about just how uncomfortable that must have been).

Smoke signals.

Telegrams.

Messages in bottles.

But today we’re lucky enough to have this beautiful thing called the Internet.

Let’s face it…it’s where we get most of our information.

Yea, there’s a lot of pointless stuff on the Internet. There’s a lot of focus on celebrity gossip and drama.

But there’s also really important stuff too.

For example, I love it when I come across amazing social media efforts conducted by organizations like Rotary.

Rotary has put together an amazing campaign – End Polio Now.

They’ve put together live tweet sessions, Facebook posts, and they’ve even had a video contest.

And they’ve done all of this because they believe it’s important to share this information with the public. They want people to know that we’re so close to eradicating polio, and that Millennials could very possibly be the last generation to see this terrible disease.

Now some people might not like these campaigns. They might say, “But helloo…I have no money…I can’t donate to your cause! Stop pressuring me.”

And I get it…trust me. I’m a poor broke college girl too.

But guess what!

It only takes 60 cents to protect a child from this terrible disease.

That’s it… $0.60.You can’t even buy a soda these days with $0.60.

On top of that, the beauty of social media is that you can easily spread a message for others to see.

You can share information with just the press of a button.

And you know what makes that so awesome?

By sharing the message with others, even more people who have the ability to donate might just hear about that cause.

So you can tweet about your favorite celebrity’s new boyfriend, or you can tweet about something bigger.

And by doing that, you can make a difference.

As a Millennial, your voice does matter.

We’ve come a long way since the days of horse and buggy.

Information is at our fingertips.

So there’s no excuse.

We can keep using technology solely for entertainment, or we can take responsibility for making a difference.

Because we can and we should.

And we can use this technology for good.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/80940373″>What will your generation be the last to see?</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user4516804″>End Polio Now</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Join in, Share your Voice, and Donate. Let’s make history together.

  • Generate Social Media Buzz – Share the video with your social networks and help raise awareness that we are this close to making history.
  • Give Financially – Visit EndPolio.org and make a donation. Just $0.60 can protect a child from the disease. Every $1 you donate to Rotary will be matched with $2 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, up to $35 million/year.

While this post has been sponsored by Rotary, I’m proud to serve as an ambassador for their End Polio Now campaign.

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My Problem With All This Talk About the New Year

30 Dec

2014

With just a couple more days before the New Year, there’s a lot of talk about making resolutions.

Now I personally think resolutions are great, that’s not what I have an issue with.

Here’s what really frustrates me…

Sure, 2014 is full of promise. It’s a chance to start over or simply start something new.

But as the New Year approaches, we find ourselves making wishes.

We find ourselves begging and pleading…

2014… please be good to me.

And then when 2014 doesn’t turn out to be as good as you’d hoped for, suddenly it’s 2014’s fault. Suddenly you find yourself hoping for 2015…probably sometime around March.

But that’s kind of crazy, because a year is just a year.

What you put into that year… that’s what makes the difference.

You can have a terrible year, or you can have a good year.

Heck, you can have the best year of your life.

But it’s entirely up to you.

You won’t lose those 20 pounds you’re hoping you’ll lose without eating right and exercising.

You won’t land that new job if you’re not working on your resume and sending it out to potential employers.

You won’t make your relationship better if you sit in front of your new PS4 every night.

I don’t know how it happened or why it happened, exactly, but it seems that we’ve come to enjoy playing the role of victim in our everyday lives.

When something bad happens, it’s not our fault.

And when something good happens, it’s only because we got really lucky.

But my question, I guess, is the following: is there any personal accountability anymore?

We’re looking to 2014 as if it’s this magical place of hope and joy…

A place where suddenly we have more money and have better relationships and we’re just overall much happier.

But it’s just a freaking year.

It’s just a number.

After 1 comes 2 and after 2013 comes 2014.

Your 2014 will be what you make of it.

If you put effort into it, chances are, it’ll be a great year for you.

And if you sit back hoping that good things are just going to magically happen to you, then I’m sure you’ll find yourself disappointed.

So use this time wisely.

What I love the most about this time right before the New Year is that it’s an opportunity to reflect on the things that have happened over the past 365 days.

I ask myself a series of questions…

What’s been awesome?

What really sucked?

How can I do better?

What do I need to work on?

What do I want?

But most importantly…

How can I make that happen?

Because at the end of the day, you can make all the wishes you want while eating your grapes on New Years Eve, but if you don’t realize that the success of 2014 is up to YOU, you’ll just be making the same wishes next year.

So make your new year count.

Make it the best one by far.

Make it so good that when 2015 comes along you’re just so damn proud of yourself.

Because you were responsible for it.

Because you put forth the effort.

Because you went after everything you wanted.

And you got it.

Hope your new year is absolutely wonderful and that 2014 brings you the determination to be the very best version of yourself.

Really, there’s nothing better than that. xoxo, Kayla

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Millennials: Don’t Be Afraid to Operate Solo

19 Dec

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I think we’ve finally accepted it: being in your twenties can be slightly lonely. Lone-ranger status… a lot. I used to be one of those people who needed to be around 50 other people in order to feel happy. But as I’ve grown, I’ve come to absolutely LOVE the time I spend alone. Because we need it- for our sanity. And I also feel super-cool when I can get things done on my own. Today’s guest post from Jessica is perfect, reminding us that there’s nothing wrong with operating solo. Enjoy!

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What they don’t tell you about your twenties – the decade of late nights, traveling, reconnecting with high school friends and indulging in happy hours – is that it can get lonely.

Maybe you’re moved into your first apartment without roommates, or you’ve felt a creeping sense of self-consciousness at weddings and baby showers. Perhaps you’re newly single and feeling like you’re waiting at a stand-still, trying to navigate “real life” after college whilst friends are scoring awesome industry jobs and packing up for a new city. Regardless of the scenario, you’re beginning to realize that not all relationships – romantic or platonic, The Notebook-esque or General Hospital-worthy – will last forever, and that’s okay.

Because you have yourself to keep you company. And if you’re introverted, maybe that’s something you understood back in middle school the summer after your peers returned in September, extra mean and extra pimply. If you’re extroverted, maybe it’s something you’re only just coming to terms with now.

Learning to be comfortable with yourself and your thoughts is an understated and yet highly important skill. Knowing how to relish in “me time” is a serious benefit to your emotional and physical health. Relationships complicate and convolute your inward perspective, but being alone will teach you who you are and what you want; what gets you off and what makes you tick; what breaches your tolerance level and what fuels your passion. Introducing yourself to solo situations now will only help you to thrive in these environments as they crop up more frequently in the future.

Take Care of Yourself

Sure, you learned how to do a load of wash, use the elliptical and prepare a meal that wasn’t purchased in the frozen food section while in college. But did you ever try exercising without a gym or jogging buddy? In your 20’s, you should warm up to the idea of attending a class, taking a walk, or just hitting the gym without a friend, and create a workout routine that doesn’t require the coordination of two schedules. You should also stock your kitchen with all the basic essentials – cookware sets like these from Belgique are super affordable – and get into the habit of preparing a fancy-pants dinner for one. Bonus points if you eat it without the TV on. Every so often, don’t be afraid to venture out on your own to get your nails or hair done, and chat with your beautician instead of asking a friend to tag along.

Travel and Explore

Learn how to hail a cab, and take a train or public transportation on your own after mapping out your destination. Take a solo day trip somewhere. Hop in your car, or rent a Zip Car for the day, and drive out to some location or attraction a few hours from home, and spend the afternoon adventuring and sight-seeing. Take lots of selfies and just be present in the moment, taking in all of the new sights and sounds around you. One day, you may even have the guts to take a vacation alone with just me, myself, and I. Sound intimidating? Thousands of people do it every year, whether “it” means backpacking through South Asia, touring around with a group, or taking off for a few days to grab a tan and engage with the locals.

Socialize

Going out without a designated buddy doesn’t mean maintaining your solitude. If loneliness is what we’re trying to combat, then optimize every opportunity to go out and meet new friends and networks of people – just don’t be afraid to venture out alone initially. Attend a networking event or conference, or an introductory class just for kicks. It can be yoga, pottery, HTML coding, resume building, beer brewing; whatever floats your boat. And if you get asked to a party where you only know the person who invited you, go anyway! Tough it out for a few hours, or at least until everyone has warmed up with liquor, and see if you can’t have a good time with a new crowd.

Go to a movie. Make it a matinee, though, so you can prop your feet up on the chair in front of you and rattle your candy and slurp your Coke as loudly as possible. Accompany yourself to happy hour: dress cute, and bring a book or watch whatever game is playing. The sooner you become comfortable and embrace the ability to go out single, the more you will be able to experience when work, family, and conflicting schedules get in the way of plans.

Nights spent on the couch watching Netflix are comfortably easy, but too many of them will make you resentful and lonely. It’s important to get comfortable with yourself sans distractions in your twenties to help build confidence and develop self-awareness and efficiency. Don’t miss out on life because you’re afraid of operating solo – as you get older, you’ll be spending more and more time alone, and that can be a wonderful thing.

Jessica Herbine is a twenty-something PR and Marketing professional working in Philadelphia. She loves to read, write, attend theater performances, rock concerts, and go out for dinner and drinks. Find her on Twitter at @jessherbs, and follow her blog at http://www.100wpm.wordpress.com!

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Twentysomething Comparisonitis

7 Oct

thief

They say one third of people in their twenties feel depressed.

I believe it, and this is why…

It seems that the society we live in today has somehow found a way to make sure that we compare every single aspect of our lives with that of other people.

It makes me kind of nauseous just thinking about it.

In our twenties, we’re paving our path, digging through dirt, figuring out which road we’d like to go down.

We’re discovering ourselves.

We’re discovering the world.

And that’s absolutely beautiful.

But is seems that every time we manage to achieve something great in our lives, we then feel the need to compare ourselves to other people.

We compare ourselves to coworkers. We compare ourselves to celebrities. We compare ourselves to that nerd we kind of knew in high school.

And you know what? That nerd is now a senior executive at a kick-ass  job. And that nerd is  getting married. And that nerd is having a baby. And that nerd is living in an awesome apartment. And that nerd is debt-free. And we know all of this because it’s plastered all over social media.

Suddenly, all the awesome stuff we’re doing doesn’t seem to matter all that much.

What matters, instead, is the fact that we’re not senior executives at a kick-ass job. And we’re not getting married. And we’re not having babies. And we don’t live in an awesome apartment and God knows we’re not debt-free.

A.K.A… life sucks….why me?

What did I do to deserve such a lame life?

Seem familiar?

If you say you haven’t felt this way, you’re probably lying. And that’s fine, I can’t force you to admit it… but we’ve all been there.

I’ve been there.

But we need to make a conscious effort to NOT be there.

Because when we compare ourselves to other people, the only things we see are the things we don’t have. 

And that’s a shame, because we should be saving our energy to focus on much more important things.

Instead of seeing the things we DON’T have, we need to focus on what we’ve accomplished. We need to focus on the good in our lives, and we need to be thankful for every bit of it. Then, we need to focus on our goals, on our dreams, on our next steps.

Not on the goals and dreams and next steps of other people.

So as you continue making the most of your twenties, make sure that you’re doing things for the right reasons.

Make sure that you’re saying “YES” to that job because you love it!

Not because you want everyone on Facebook to know that you have a job.

Make sure you’re getting married because you love someone.

Not because you want to post a picture of your 2 carat diamond to see how many likes you can get.

Make sure you’re having a baby because you’re ready.

Not because you’re tired of staying home with your cats while all your friends have mommy/baby play dates.

Focus on yourself.

Focus on your life.

Do things not so that the world can see, but so that you can know what you’re capable of.

So you can be sure of your worth.

Of your potential.

Do things so that you can live the life you’ve always dreamt of.

So that you can be happy.

Because you deserve that happiness.

You owe yourself that much.

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Finishing What We’ve Started

29 Aug

finish

I want you guys to think about something for a second…

Over the past year, how many projects have you left unfinished?

How many super-awesome ideas have you had that you’ve just kind of forgotten about?

How many times have you said that you wanted to do something…and yet you haven’t gotten around to doing it?

It’s not a fun feeling, is it? Thinking about all that wasted energy…

That’s one of the things that most annoys me about people in general. It annoys me that we have a general tendency to not finish what we’ve started.

At work, we go to meetings where we brainstorm and throw out ideas about how we can make things better. And then you know what happens?

Nothing.

Nothing happens. We go back to our usual day and function as we normally do.

In our personal lives, we have dreams and goals and every once in a while, we have one of those light bulb moments. We figure out how we can change our lives for the better.

And then you know what happens?

Nothing.

Nothing happens. Or, sometimes, SOMETHING happens…for a week or two. And then we go back to our usual day and function as we normally do.

Annoying, isn’t it?

I mean, sometimes I can’t help but wonder why we even start things if we don’t push ourselves to finish.

Now sure… there ARE some things that you really shouldn’t finish…like bad books and whole tubs of ice cream.

But for the most part, we really should make every effort to finish what we’ve put into place.  

That’s one of the reasons why I admire Rotary so much.

Through their efforts to completely eradicate polio, they’ve been able to reach a 99% reduction rate.

Some organizations would be happy with that. For some organizations, that would be enough.

But not for Rotary.

They know that they’re SO CLOSE to their goal, but they recognize that they’ve still got that other 1% to go.

And that means something to them. They’re not stopping until their done.

They’re not stopping because recently there have been outbreaks in Somalia and parts of Africa that were previously polio-free.

And for that reason, as long as polio still exists, children everywhere are at risk of being affected by the disease.

Because if we experience a resurgence of polio, 10 million children could be affected throughout the next 40 years.

And we don’t want that.

Rotary and its partners in the global initiative have already put so much work and effort into helping this great cause. They’ve helped immunize 2.5 billion children – yes – BILLION, and as a result, they’ve prevented more than 10 million children worldwide from being affected by polio.

So now it’s time to finish what they’ve started.

Now it’s time to tackle that last 1%…and they’re committed to doing so.

So today, I’m making the same commitment to finish the things that I’ve started. Or at the very least, to give these things my all.

Because if everyone were to leave their efforts unfinished, what would we really accomplish as a society? How would we make life better?

We’re creative, we’re passionate, and we’re too full of potential to let it go to waste.

So make things happen.

Finish what you’ve started or start something worth finishing.

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