Tag Archives: twenty something

Our Very Busy Lives

11 Jan

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Yes, I’m still alive!

If I think about it, I’m more alive than I’ve been in quite some time, actually.

But things are a little different these days.

For starters, I’m getting married. And yes, as exciting as it is, there’s only so much talk of flowers and dresses and tablecloths that I can deal with at any given moment.

My brain is fried, honestly.

My energy level = zero.

I’m also 6 months into my new job that I love. It’s crazy and chaotic and there are times when no one knows what they’re doing, but hey, it’s so worth it! I have a pretty kick-ass team that I love working and laughing with and really- what more could I ask for?

So yea, life’s been good to me…

I’m eternally grateful for it.

But my lack of writing during this phase of severe change in my life has finally gotten to me.

And I suddenly feel the need to put down words on paper.

I hate that I’ve been neglecting something that I’m so passionate about.

And I don’t want to feel that way anymore.

So here I am, getting back to something that I love.

And is it absolutely terrifying?

Hell yea it is.

Because it’s been way too long.

But I’m gunna put my fear and my insecurity aside, and I’m gunna get back to it.

You gotta start somewhere, right?

It’s a new year, and I’ve run out of excuses.

So for all of you who’ve maybe been neglecting a hobby that you’ve at one point enjoyed…

Or for those of you who’ve been saying that you want to try something new and you just haven’t gotten around to it…

Get up off the couch, and go do it.

We’re all busy.

We all have points of craziness in our lives.

Babies.

Weddings.

Groceries that need to be bought.

We really could make a list of excuses that goes on and on and on.

And we could tell ourselves… “Oh, I’ll get to it when I’m a little less busy.”

Once the baby’s born.

Once my classes are over.

Once the wedding’s all planned.

But here’s a secret….

We’re always gunna be freakin’ busy.

ALWAYS.

If it’s not one thing stopping you, it’s something else.

Because that’s life.

Life is busy.

Life becomes busy, and it never stops.

There will always be things that need to be done, people that you need to see, events that you need to go to.

But that’s no reason for you to give up on things that you’re passionate about.

We make time for the things that matter most to us.

So don’t put them off.

Pencil them in to your ever-growing schedule.

Because if you don’t, you’ll find yourself six months later wondering how and why it’s been so long since you’ve done that thing you love to do.

And then, you’ll want to kick yourself for it.

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all the very best!

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Four Ways Millennials Can Be Happier Right This Minute

23 Jun

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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?

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Budgeting Tips For Your 20s

15 Apr

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If you know me, then you know that I’m like absolutely beyond obsessed with saving money.

I mean, I can’t even go grocery shopping with my man-friend anymore because he’s the “just get what you need, I don’t care how much it costs” type…and I’m more like, “hey, I’m going to be here a while trying to figure out which pack of paper plates gives us the best value.”

LOL just writing that makes me feel ridiculous.

But that’s fine…because I’ve got more $$$ in my wallet. Success!

So today, my friend Ryan is talking about budgeting and I absolutely love it because, well…I’m a nerd like that. Enjoy!

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Retirement seems like something so far off into the future that young people rarely even think about it. However, it’s something that people in their twenties should really prepare for financially–aside from medical emergencies, the possibility of starting a family, and/or buying a home for the first time. To save money and achieve any—or all—of these financial goals, here are a few  tips on budgeting for the smart twenty-something.

1. Learn to Differentiate Between “Wants” and  “Needs”

Budgeting requires learning to differentiate between wants and needs. The line that separates a need from a want can be blurrysometimes,but  you’re the only one who can make these decisions. Food, housing, and warmth, of course, fall under the needs category. Things like a fast broadband connection could be be considered a need too, especially if you work from home. But if you just use it for entertainment, then it’s probably a want, given that less expensive options are usually available.

Once you’ve created a list of things you’d want to spend on and need to spend on, then you can start creating a budget based on your income and how much those wants and needs cost. Prioritize your needs over your wants when you make your budget for those items, and don’t forget to set aside a portion of your money for your savings fund.

2. Use a Personal Finance App

Creating a budget isn’t even half the battle. The greatest challenge when it comes to managing your finances is actually sticking to one. There are lots of apps for your smartphone that can help you monitor your expenses so you can stay on top of your money. A quick search on your phone’s app store for personal finance apps will bring up a selection of budget trackers—many of which are free to download or usually pretty cheap. Apps like Mint help you monitor your checking and savings accounts and even help you keep an eye on your expenses which makes it easy to see if you’re still well within your budget at any given time. Other free apps include Toshl Finance and SavedPlus.

3. Review Your Expenses

What’s even cooler is that the personal finance apps mentioned above can often provide you with expense reports so it’ll be easy for you to check which areas you need to improve on.

If your expense report tells you you’ve achieved your budget goals, then congratulations! But don’t stop there! Periodically review your expenses and look at categories you spend the most on. You could be surprised at how much you’re spending on things that don’t seem very expensive but add up over time like impulse purchases and snacks at gas stations whenever you gas up. Reviewing your expenses also helps you find out whether your budget plan is still feasible. Prices of utilities and even your rent can change, so this can help you determine whether or not you need to adjust your budget to meet your current needs.

These are just a few budgeting tips that will hopefully help you out a bit. The earlier you learn to improve your budgeting skills, the better off you’ll be in the future when your financial goals change.

Ryan Del Villar is a Content Strategist for MoneyHero. Ryan is also a freelance writer at Helm Word, an Online Reputation Management company.

So tell me… what do YOU do to keep your finances in order?

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Why We Ought to Take Blogs A Little More Seriously

7 Apr

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For some reason that I’ll never understand, a lot of people in the wonderful world of academia tend to hate bloggers.

Maybe not hate-hate, but they certainly don’t take blogs seriously.

Because apparently, if you’re not published in some fancy-pants journal, your work isn’t  important.

Makes sense, right?!

Well, no. No it doesn’t.

So in response to all the blogger-haters out there, here are a couple reasons why blogs are awesome and should be given all the credit they deserve.

1. They Allow for Thinking at All Levels

No, you don’t need to have a PhD to have a thought process. Brains, people! Everyone has one! So to believe that only those who somehow publish their thoughts in a journal or a book are entitled to USE their brains, is wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The awesome thing about blogs is that so many people with different perspectives get to provide insight on various issues. I mean, even kids (so long as they know how to type) can give their two cents on any given topic. And we ought to listen to what they have to say. Because blogging allows for us to learn from ANYONE, really.

You don’t need to be rich to blog. You don’t have to be the CEO of a company. You don’t have to have 53,000 Twitter followers. And you don’t have to have 5 diplomas hanging on your wall. If you have thoughts, you’re able to put them out there. And I think that this diversity in ideas and in thought patterns is absolutely invaluable.

2. They Create the Opportunity for Oh-So-Important Dialogue

You know that wonderful little box at the end of most blogs that lets you comment on what you’ve read? Well, it’s kind of the bomb. Because comment boxes allow us to engage in dialogue.

Communication… Something that a lot of people these days are forgetting how to participate in.

While I’m not knocking journals and books, I think that blogs do provide additional value in that they allow for readers to reflect on things that they’ve read, and then engage in that dialogue immediately. Sometimes readers disagree with what they’ve read. Sometimes readers love it! Sometimes readers decide to share their own experiences, and like #1, this allows for various shared perspectives.

So yes, I’m definitely a fan of the comment box!

3. They Provide Real-Time Analyses of Situations

This one’s easy. Things are always happening. There are issues and problems and conferences that people are attending and new thoughts that are being introduced every. single. minute. of every day.

And while yes, it’s great if you can talk about these things in a fancy-pants journal, here’s the problem…

Journals and books take SO LONG to publish.

With blogs, you don’t have to wait.

You can experience/witness something and open your laptop, write, and publish. All of this in less than 15 mins. Heck- you can even do it from your phone these days! You don’t even need a computer.

And in this society that we live in…where we want updates and information 24/7…blogs definitely help us stay up-to-date on recent happenings.

4. Easy, Simple, and FREE Disbursement of Knowledge!

Maybe you catch up on all your favorite blogs first thing in the morning. Maybe you do it on your lunch break. Regardless, throughout the day, you’re bound to come across a post that you absolutely love…something you know is worth sharing.

Now with a book or a journal, you can see something you like and you can recommend that your friends check it out, but it requires time and money and energy…which let’s face it… few people have these days.

But blogs are amazing because you can share thoughts and ideas in like 2.5 seconds! You see something you want to share? AWESOME! Grab the link. Copy. Paste. Post on Facebook. Post on Twitter. Send link via text, etc. Some blogs have made it so easy that you just need to click a button.

So yea, I don’t know about you, but I’m all about free knowledge. And if it’s simple and easy to access, even better.

5. Connections All Over the World

When I’m chatting with someone from New Zealand, that’s pretty freaking awesome! I mean, I don’t travel often (since I’m poor), yet it’s such a great experience to be able to connect with people from all over the world. Not only is it super-cool, but connecting with industry professionals who happen to live on different continents is also a great opportunity to expand your network. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll find yourself in New Zealand, unemployed, and the many connections you’ve  made over the years will provide you with opportunities that may otherwise not have been possible.

So, that’s it! Let’s stop hating blogs. Let’s stop hating bloggers. Because we all have something to contribute. And we don’t lose anything by gaining additional perspectives.

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Your Cubicle Doesn’t Have to Be Ugly

3 Mar

So today I’m not writing anything fancy.

Nope.

Nothing soul-crushingly deep.

I just wanna talk about something that’s been on my mind for a while now.

So here it goes…

Your cubicle doesn’t have to be ugly.

Not a teeny tiny bit.

It doesn’t have to be dark and gray and dreary.

And you know what else? It doesn’t have to look like a prison.

Instead, it can be fun.

It can be vibrant and uplifting.

It can be a reflection of your super-awesome personality if you want it to.

There’s been a lot of research lately about office design and productivity.

More and more I’m coming across articles that discuss office design and how it affects our mood.

So I guess I kind of think it’s important.

Probably because we spend more time in our office space than we do at home (sadly).

And I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time making sure that my home is comfy.

I spend a lot of time making sure that my home makes me feel good.

We buy things and re-position objects that we probably don’t even need and we do these things because it’s part of making our environment a positive one.

Our cubicle…our office space…it’s our second home.

So if it’s killing your mood and makes you feel awful, it’s probably time you do something about that.

I recently started making a few changes to my little lonely cubicle. Now it’s kind of cool.

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First of all, anyone who knows me knows that I’m a quote fanatic, so I’ve got some awesome motivational posters that keep me somewhat sane when I’m having a really crappy day.

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Then I’ve got these super cute items from UrbanGirl.Com. I don’t know what to tell you… My Jonathan Adler Block Calendar and LoLo Stanley Case… sure, they’re not essential, but they bring so much color to my desk and they just make me feel happy.

*Sidenote: The elephant, even though it’s pink, was bought because I’m a huge Alabama Football fan, so everytime I look at it I get excited for the season to start again.

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Then I’ve got my shrine to all the important people in my life. Sorry mom and dad, I need to get a picture of you guys too! (Don’t hate me.) But anyway, it just makes me happy to know that outside of work, I’ve got so many positive relationships in my life, and THAT- on its own- gives me even more of a reason to want to work hard. Even though I’m working and I may not enjoy every second of every day, I’m working so that I can have the resources to make more memories with these people. (Because you know, you can’t go out and do awesome super-fun things if you’re totally poor.)

Blog Design 4

And then, finally, I’ve got my vacation corner. This picture of me and my man-friend was taken in Gettysburg, PA. We went up there a while back and it was such an incredible experience. Right under it sits my Panama City Beach snow globe. Again, we’ve vacationed there together and we’ve loved every minute of it. So my vacation corner reminds me that the world’s a lot bigger than my cubicle, and it reminds me to try to experience as much of it as possible.

Now it’s your turn! What do you love about your office space, and if the answer is NOTHING, then what are you gunna do to fix that?

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Why You Need to Learn To Get Over It

20 Jan

I think I have  a memory problem.

I mean, I hope I don’t…but I’m a little concerned.

I have a really hard time remembering things that happened yesterday, and sometimes, when other people bring up things from the past, I can’t remember what the heck they’re talking about.

No, I don’t remember going to that party.

No, I don’t remember getting in trouble that night.

Ashley? Who the heck is Ashley?

So as I’m thinking about all of this while praying that I don’t have some kind of early-onset Alzheimer’s, I realize that although this really bad memory of mine is somewhat problematic, it’s also very much a blessing too.

Yea, it kind of stinks when I can’t find my keys.

It’s even worse when I can’t find my work badge.

But if there’s one really positive thing about my memory issue, it’s that I’m really not capable of holding a grudge.

Because I can’t remember that I was mad in the first place.

Or I often forget after a few days.

It’s a beautiful thing, this semi-amnesia.

When I think about it, I know a lot of people that get upset about things and stay upset for a really long time.

Heck- I know some people who’ve been mad their whole lives.

But that’s really not healthy.

The more I experience in my life, the more I realize that conflict is going to happen.

I don’t like it, but it’s a fact.

At some point, you’ll be hurt, and at some point, you’ll hurt someone too.

At some point you’ll be mad at your family, your friends, your boyfriend, your co-workers- your boss, even.

But that anger and that pain… it doesn’t need to hang around forever.

It’s just not good for you.

So if there’s one thing you really ought to learn how to do, it’s how to forgive and forget and move on.

AKA… GET OVER IT.

Because there’s nothing more damaging to your spirit than holding on to anger.

So if you want to be mad, be mad.

But only for a day or two.

After that, pretend it never happened, and you’ll realize just how much lighter you feel.

And that, at the end of the day, will make you much much happier.

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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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Twentysomething Comparisonitis

7 Oct

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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

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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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Guest Post: Reflections From a (Formerly) Jobless Girl

31 Jul

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I absolutely LOVE today’s guest post by Abby Cooper. She’s an amazing writer, and today she’s offering some insight on success in the workplace. Read it! I promise… it’s really great 🙂

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I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.

Unfortunately, it turns out that knowing does not get you hired. Sometimes it gets you a fake teacher discount at Michael’s when the guy takes pity on you because you’re doing art projects by yourself instead of with children. Apparently doing paint-by-number alone on a Saturdaynight stopped being cool after age ten. It would have been nice if someone sent a memo or something.

I am about to embark on my junior year of life (aka, third year out of college) and I’m only now starting my first real-life grown-up job. For the past two years, I’ve been trying to get my foot in the door. Any door. I would have happily taken a doggie door had one been open. You get the point.

Through all my door-seeking, I’ve learned a lot about what you need to do to get hired. I’ve also learned that not all doors lead to places that are right for you. Here’s what I know:

1. You have to touch the bugs. I was substitute teaching one day when an announcement boomed over the loudspeaker: “the bugs are here!”

Oh, cool. Kill me now.

The bugs were for the first grade’s insect unit, but these were not your run-of-the-mill ladybugs and caterpillars. We’re talking millipedes (aka worms on steroids) and lifesize killer beetles.

I couldn’t help wondering if the real first-grade teachers had known about this and strategically chosen this day to be “sick”…

The other substitute in first grade couldn’t handle the Monster Bugs of Doom and went home. I couldn’t blame her, but I wasn’t going to hand over my chance of ever getting hired at this school just because there was a strong possibility that one of these things could swallow me whole.

I took a deep breath (and by “a” deep breath I obviously mean like 800), took off my glasses (it wasn’t necessary to see all the details of their slimy bodies) and put the creatures in their cages. It was not pleasant. But guess who got called back to teach again the next day? (Hint: me.)

Whether or not your job asks you to pick up bugs that could eat you for breakfast, I think the important thing to remember is to say yes to whatever seemingly strange requests come your way. Within reason. These are the adventures we have to challenge ourselves to have if we want to get somewhere, and they’re awesome opportunities to show just how valuable (and brave) you are.

2. Speak the language. Or fake it.

I once got called to teach Chinese for a week. I don’t know Chinese. I went anyway.

It’s amazing what you can learn in a class you’re supposed to be teaching. For example, shuttlecock is a Chinese sport, not something scandalous that makes you wonder why they want you to teach it to small children. Also, don’t assume every question a child asks in another language means “can I go to the bathroom?” Sometimes it means “can I throw this shuttlecock at your head?” and you will regret saying yes.

It’s okay to agree to do things you don’t know how to do, like teach Chinese. And it’s okay to admit that you don’t know how to do those things (but you are super willing to learn, in case any potential employers want to know.) Don’t be scared of the unknown. The unknown could pay your bills and also teach you a new sport that will make you very popular at parties.

3. Play the game until it gets creepy.

Ever since I first started working, I’ve noticed that a lot of bosses seem to really, really like the power that comes with being the boss. I don’t particularly care for these people, but I can deal with them. I nod. I smile. I imagine them moving to Australia. Etc.

Every boss has some kind of game going on. And in addition to your actual job, it’s your job to figure it out and play. Until it gets creepy. This is different than “until it stops being fun.” I think we need to accept that first-ish jobs, generally, are not fun.

Creepy happens when your boss yells at you for wearing blue, despite the fact that your office doesn’t have a dress code.

Creepy also happens when your boss makes Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada look like a pretty nice lady.

This is when you say bye-bye-boss. This is also when you change your phone number and quite possibly your address.

I’ve left more than one of these kinds of situations in my day. But I’m not a quitter – I’m a person who’s decided that her sanity is more valuable than a job. And while sadly sanity does not pay my rent, I have learned what I will and will not accept at work, and I’ve learned how to get feet through doors in the process. And these are some really valuable things to know. I am looking forward to finally going through a door at a school this coming August. Whether it brings bugs or shuttlecocks or a really bizarre combination of the two, the past few years of adventure and experience have made me ready for just about anything.

Abby Cooper is a twenty-something living and working in Chicago. Follow her adventures on Twitter  @_AnxiousA_

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