My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Last week I received an email from educational company, Webucator that asked if I would write about what I thought the best skills and aptitudes were in order to be successful in the “real world.” As someone who has been there and done that, I jumped at the chance to share my advice and thoughts about the working world.

Guys, I want to say that life post-college and graduate school is all daisies and ice cream sundaes, but it’s not.

In fact, life post-college and graduate school can be hard.

Way hard.

You go into school with an idea of what you want to do with the rest of your life, a goal, a plan, a dream job. You study hard, you get excellent grades and build up a stellar resume. All things that just help to get you one step further in landing that position as a lawyer/doctor/writer/teacher/professional ice cream taste tester (I’m still waiting to hear back from Ben & Jerry’s about my application).

After four (or five or eight) long years of all-night study cram sessions, teeny, tiny dorm rooms, and all-you-can-eat Ramen, you did it. You finally graduated and got that diploma! You got that degree!

It’s something to be very proud of, for sure.

But now what?

All of a sudden, you are faced with an abundance of unknowns.

Where will I work? What will I do? Where do I look? How do I even start? How am I going to pay the looming student loans that are ever so sneakily sneaking up on me?

What if I’m not good enough?

What if I fail?

All of these are things that went through my head at one point in time or another.

I had an idea of what I wanted to do, who I wanted to become, but it was getting there that was the hard part.

When asked about which skills are important in order to be successful in the work place, I can list off a few.

Quite a lot, in fact.

Communication.

Multi-tasking.

Being a team player.

Adaptation.

Creativity and a thirst for knowledge.

Being technology-savvy (or having the ability and drive to learn).

All of these things, and many more are, in my mind and experience, skills that help make you a better and more well-rounded individual.

The one thing however that I really, truly believe is crucial, is necessary, in order to get a job that you not only are qualified for and good at, but that you enjoy and are passionate about?

That one thing, my dear friends is persistence (and a strong faith.)

It took me two years, two very long years after I graduated college to land my first “big girl” job. I spent all day, every day, looking, searching, applying and yes, being rejected. One thing I learned very quickly is to not take rejection personally.

This is a lot easier said than done.

Trust me.

I shed many a tear (and ate many a cupcake) over interviews that weren’t meant to be, emails with the standard “While we were fortunate enough to have had many wonderful candidates, we decided to go with someone else who…yada yada yada…” and phone calls that just reiterated the fact that I should have just become a professional Sherpa.

The second thing I learned was that looking for jobs, applying and putting yourself out there was and is a full-time job in and of itself. You have to be vigilant. You have to go full-on Beast mode on that mother. Just do it. And keep doing it.

A third thing I also learned was that while you may have your degree in Journalism for example, that doesn’t mean that you will get that dream job of being a writer for the NY Times right off that bat. You might not even get a job writing at all.

I just recently graduated with my Masters in Library Science and am working at a consulting firm, doing research for universities. While I enjoy the people that I work with, and it helps pay the bills, I can’t say that I am really, truly happy with what I do.

But you know what?

I’m not giving up.

We all have to go through “those” jobs sometimes before we get the opportunity to do what we really want to do but that doesn’t mean that you will be stuck filing papers or waiting tables forever.

Be persistent.

And have faith.

Because you are smart, creative, and have a really bright future ahead of you.

Now what are you waiting for?! Go out there and show your potential future boss who’s, uh, boss! :)

Woman Crush Wednesday

My #WCW goes out to a pretty cool gal.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think that she was all that pretty at first, but she’s one that’s grown on me.

She’s imperfectly perfect and I think that’s what I like so much about her.

She has a way of making people, including herself, belly laugh,

and she’s never afraid of looking dumb for the sake of humor.

She used to be fantastic at getting worried and stressed out over the littlest of things, but she’s mellowed out with age.

When I think of her,

she’s not just a number on a scale,

or a size on a pair of jeans.

She’s sarcastic and witty and charmingly weird.

She’s a lover and a fighter [it just depends on the topic *cough Milwaukee Brewers cough.*]

She’s somebody who tries to make everybody feel like a somebody.

She changes  her mind [often.]

She forgives, but she doesn’t necessarily forget.

She loves love.

She’s not cool by any means, and that suits her.

She makes mistakes. She forgets to call you back. And she sometimes acts first and thinks second.

But she owns it.

She also loves fiercely and loyally.

She’s naturally nervous, a lover of high-fives and bad puns, and is unapologetically herself.

She’s worked very hard to be exactly who she is,

which is why she deserves to be my woman crush every Wednesday day.1560528_10100343285202352_1066313513_n

She’s me.

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It’s the epitome of gluttonous satisfaction when you find yourself home alone, slouching on the couch in front of the TV with your eyes half open, a steady trail of cookie crumbs  dripping from your mouth onto your shirt and pants, chocolate smears on your lips and fingers, and the telltale cookie package laying beside you, the plastic tray peeled all the way out of the bag, entire rows laying vacant  except for a bit of brown dust and maybe a rogue chocolate chip or two.

It’s satisfying, alright, because many delicious cookies were eaten, without witnesses, in a very quick and steady stream, by shoving them into your mouth, chewing a few times, and then swallowing quickly to make room for the next one. You’re a cookie monster and you love it.

Eating cookies like Cookie Monster is great because, more than anything, it represents freedom. Yes, free thought takes you to the pantry, free will makes you grab that cookie package and sit down on the couch, and free Seinfeld reruns keep you company while you sit down and enjoy. You’re the Executive Chef in your personal dessert kitchen here.

Just tell me that’s not liberating.

I mean sure, we all know it’s not the greatest idea to eat a pile of cookies just before bed, but that’s not the point. The point is: you can do it.

You’ve come a long way from the portion-controlled cookie snacks you got when you were a kid, that maybe two or three cookies on a small plate with a tall glass of milk that just wet your appetite for more. Now it’s all you, all the time baby. Nobody is going to stop you except you. You can eat a whole row. Heck, you can eat two rows. You can plough them in there. You can savor them slowly. The point is my friends, it’s such a great feeling to scarf cookies without abandon like Cookie Monster.

He was, is, and will forever be a role model for us all.

AWESOME!

My Legacy

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I’ve been thinking a lot about who I am and what type of legacy I might leave behind someday.

Not that I am planning on going anywhere anytime soon, or at least I hope not. But thinking about who I am today, who I could be tomorrow, and who and how I will be remembered as does shed some light and perspective on the things I’ve done, the things I’ve said, and the way I have conducted myself up until now. Have I been the type of person I wanted to be? I was raised to be? I was born to be?

I’ve decided that when I’m gone, I hope that if people say one thing about me, it’s that I knew more than anyone else when it came to artisanal pickles.

Just kidding, I don’t know anything about artisanal pickles other than nom nom nom.

In all seriousness, I hope that if people say one thing about me, it’s that I was kind.

I want to be kinder than I am funny. Kinder than I am intelligent. Kinder than I am pretty. Kinder than I am a good writer or runner or baker [or candlestick maker].

I want to be kinder every day than I was the day before.

That’s what I hope people say about me when I’m gone.

How about you?

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You know when you can just feel that popcorn kernel stuck back there in the swampy recesses of your mouth and it’s totally infuriating?

Yes, your tongue slides past its smooth surface unsuccessfully, your toothbrush’s flimsy bristles just can’t shake it, and even your fingernail can’t quite unwedge it from the tight molar deathgrip it’s stuck in.

So the fork is dropped and the dessert lays unfinished. The conversation fades to a blurry, distant noise and the world stops around you as you just keep trying and trying and trying to get that darn popcorn kernel out. You close your eyes and squint, you tilt your head and you emit a deep-bass “nnnnnnn” noise as your body directs all available faculties at flushing this thing out. But it just sits there tightly, clogging and gumming up your entire system like a pile of defaulted mortgages.

And then, suddenly, when you think you have almost lost all hope…

it falls out.

AWESOME!

Not only is Amy Poehler funny and brilliant, but she’d also make one heck of a life coach. I’d pay handsomely for a half hour session with her. She’s taught me so much and she’s so inspirational and brilliant, that I find myself always “going to her” when I need help. When I found out she was writing (and publishing) a book, I was beyond thrilled. I just know that it’s going to change my life, and I’m eagerly awaiting its release with highlighters and pens in hand. So, in honor of her upcoming book, “Yes Please,” (which I’ve pre-orderd!), and her new movie “They Came Together,” in theaters now, I’ve compiled all the things I’ve learned from my “therapy sessions” with Amy Poehler.

1.  “Anybody who doesn’t make you feel good, kick them to the curb. And the earlier you start in your life, the better.”

She’s so right on target here. Sometimes we put up with awful things from people for various reasons. Maybe its lack of confidence or respect for ourselves, maybe it’s because we feel we owe that person for some reason, or maybe it’s because we don’t know how to stand up for ourselves. Whatever it is, follow Amy’s advice and give it up now. You deserve SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. You deserve to be happy and you don’t need ANYONE in your life that makes you feel belittled, insignificant, ugly, stupid, sad, angry, etc. They aren’t worth it, and the people who are would never make you feel that way!

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2. “No one looks stupid when they’re having fun.”

I love this. I’m not the type of person who embarrasses easily. In fact, I’m more likely to embarrass you for being seen with me. I love to goof off and have fun and some people just can’t handle that. Sure, there’s a time and a place, but the list of places you shouldn’t goof off is pretty small compared to the list of places you should. There was a brief moment in my life when I started really caring about what people thought and it was awful! I never had as much fun! I know a lot of people are afraid to let go because they don’t want to look stupid or embarrass themselves, but I say, who cares!? Embrace it! The fun you’ll have will be well worth it in the end, trust me.

3. “Continue to share your heart with people even if it’s been broken.”

Smart lady. This was something I’ve definitely struggled with in the past. It’s a natural reaction; when we get hurt, all of our walls go up as our heart tirelessly prevents itself from having to endure that pain again. It’s a defense mechanism that’s really sophisticated and efficient and great at what it does. Learning how to lower your guard, to break down those walls and let people in again is truly difficult. But it’s absolutely vital. And totally worth the hard work it takes to get there again.

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4. “Rooting for other people’s failure does get in the way of your success.”

Classy, classy woman. We should always be uplifting each other instead of dragging people down. There’s enough of that going on in the world, we don’t need to be doing it to each other too. I’m a firm believer that what you put out into the world always comes back to you.

5. “You can’t do it alone. As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, and spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life. No one is here today because they did it on their own.”

Sometimes you want to go at it alone because you feel like if you ask for help, you lose a little of the reward. It might feel like you don’t deserve the product if you had help with the development or maybe you might feel like you don’t want to share credit with anyone else because IT’S YOUR BABY and you’ve put your heart and a lot of hard work into it. I know I’ve felt that way before. But asking for help doesn’t mean any of these things. In fact, success is rarely accomplished by doing things alone. Ask for help, take other peoples’ opinions and ideas into consideration and create something beautiful and amazing together!

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6. “Taking risks and making choices is what makes life so exciting.”

I used to be such a free spirit; I never thought that taking risks would be something I’d EVER struggle with. But when you get burned badly, when you break into thousands of pieces and you spend so many awful days trying to put yourself back together, you most often end up overcompensating by playing it safe. As mentioned before, those walls come up to prevent anymore heartache, but more often than not, they actually deprive us of truly experiencing happiness. Sure, we may feel safe when we don’t take risks, but like every cheesy Lifetime movie says, life isn’t about playing it safe. When we have something to lose, only then do we experience life at its fullest.

7. “Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it…doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that—that is what life is.”

BE BRAVE. When something scares me, I make myself do it (within reason). Obviously some things are incredibly dangerous and possibly detrimental to your health/job/life, and in those circumstances do not ignore your gut feelings! But with everything else, try things you wouldn’t normally try, eat things you wouldn’t normally eat, experience something you’ve been strangely interested in, but too afraid to do your whole life! Be uncomfortable, be afraid, but just do it!

8. “I get worried for young girls sometimes; I want them to feel that they can be sassy and full and weird and geeky and smart and independent, and not so withered and shriveled.”

If Amy is anything, she’s real. I love how empowering she is for women. I feel like she’s that one friend who’s always your cheerleader, no matter what. With everything she’s accomplished, she’s really pushing the envelope in a male dominated field. AND I LOVE THAT ABOUT HER. She practically IS feminism.

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9. “Try to keep your mind open to possibilities and your mouth closed on matters that you don’t know about. Limit your always and your nevers.”

Pretty good advice if you ask me! Keeping an open mind allows us to continually grow and challenge ourselves. And before casting an opinion or making up our mind about something, we should learn about it first.

10. “The earlier you learn that you should focus on what you have and not obsess about what you don’t have, the happier you will be.”

When does Amy NOT look happy? The answer is NEVER. She’s someone that you can totally trust taking advice on happiness from. Most of us would agree with her here if we were asked, but sometimes we lose sight of these simple but true principles. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the world. We work so hard to obtain what we want out of life that we sometimes forget to actually live it. Take a step back, re-evaluate yourself, your priorities, your plans, and make sure that what you’re doing is going to make you happy while reaching your goals. We can’t bank on living life once we’ve achieved them; we have to live it in the moment. We have to be in the present while looking forward to the future and not forgetting the past. We have to find happiness with what we have and who we are at that very moment.

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11. “There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.”

This, I LOVE. Forget everyone else. Live your life the way you feel is best and don’t worry about what others think.  If you’re happy, block everyone else out. And if you can’t help but be worried about them, just remember, confidence is the key. People won’t question you if you don’t let them.

12. “Sometimes painful things teach us lessons that we didn’t think we needed to know.”

It’s all about perspective. We don’t have to like the painful things in life, but we can accept them for shaping us into the people we are and will be. It’s important to learn to look on the bright side of things. And if that doesn’t work, then let’s look at the funny side of things.

13. “It’s just about honoring the fact that, yeah, I should be writing, producing, directing. I should be believing that the world is mine to have.”

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Self confidence is the key that unlocks your true potential. Once you have that belief, you are strong, powerful, and the world is yours for the taking.

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14. “When you do talk about yourself or to yourself and you have that tape running in your head about yourself, try to picture you are talking to your own daughter or your younger sister, because you would tell your younger sister or your daughter that she is beautiful and you wouldn’t be lying, because she is. And so are you.”

We need to treat ourselves better, that’s for sure. We are our biggest critics and sometimes our worst enemy. We cannot truly be happy until we love ourselves.

15. “You deserve love and you’ll get it.”

And last but not least, be patient and believe that good things will come your way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to sit idly by like a damsel in distress waiting for your Prince Charming to come rescue you from the Evil Queen, because let’s get one thing straight, we don’t need a man to save us, we can do it ourselves. But life requires a certain amount of patience. Go after what you want and don’t settle for anything less. You deserve it. And you’ll get it.

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Oofta, guys. Summer is definitely upon us.

When your eyes sting from big, salty beads of dripping sweat, your T-shirt gets wet and sticky and melts to your back, and your upper lip forms a splotchy sweatstache,  then I say buddy, it’s time for a drink.

And what says refreshing better than a tall glass of completely dripping, condensation-covered, fall-in-a-winter-pond-cold water?

I mean, you chug that stuff down and it feels like swallowing an icicle. You can actually feel that cold river ripping down the chute and coating your insides. Your throat pulses, your stomach clenches and thanks you, and your entire body just drops a couple of degrees. It might feel like you’re the model for the Pepto-Bismal commercial, only instead of the pink stuff, it’s icy cold H2O.

Yes, a really cold glass of water on a really hot day is simple, it’s cheap, it’s refreshing, and we all know it is truly….

AWESOME!

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