A Yearly Tradition

Travel

It was recently my 24th birthday (I do accept gifts in the form of job offers and free flights across the Atlantic…) and I remembered a conversation I had with a group of friends a few years ago on my birthday.

We were drinking margaritas and eating endless chips and salsa on a sunny spring day in Indianapolis when one of my good friends asked me to name five goals for my next year of life. I came up with goals relatively easy then: graduate in just a few weeks, move to a different country, travel to a few more countries, read some books, etc. (If we’re honest, the next day another friend asked what my goals were and we could blame the margs or the stress of exams or what have you, but we honestly couldn’t come up with what five goals I had named the day before… start each year with a fresh start?)

So I went through the year trying to hit these goals. I graduated, moved to London, started a Master’s degree, traveled the country and Europe. Who knows if I managed to meet my five goals? But by my birthday celebrations in Montenegro, I was ready to challenge myself to another set of goals.Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 3.17.06 PM

I made the rookie mistake both years of not writing my goals down. So this year I am rectifying that by leaving my five goals here for all to see.

Goal #1: Get a Job

Goal #2: Run a Mile

Goal #3: Take the LSAT

Goal #4: Visit Friends Living in New Cities

Goal #5: Repierce Lost Piercings

Here’s to hoping I have better luck remembering these in a year’s time than my past attempts.

Working From Home

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As a currently fun-employed 20-something, I’ve found myself sitting at home scrolling through the endless job offerings on LinkedIn, hoping for a diamond in the rough posting that will perfectly fit my qualifications. While I continue that, I wanted to share my realizations about working (or simply being) at home all day. These tips (for lack of a better word) can apply to the unemployed, the self-employed, the telecommuting, or the retired.

Get Dressed

It’s such a simple step that makes such a difference. If I spend the morning in my pajamas lazing in bed, nothing gets done. Even if it isn’t until 11 a.m., get out of bed and get dressed – nothing fancy, just something new.

Distance Yourself

Speaking of bed, get away from it. Distance yourself from distractions in your apartment/house/dorm. If you can, get out of bed and sit at a table or even on your couch. Other distractions I’ve found include the kitchen, my phone, any televisions, and messy places. Anything that could give you a task or a temptation other than work has to be left in the other room. If you’re really motivated, head to a coffee shop or a library nearby.

Leave the House

Distancing myself from my apartment can mean distancing myself from the stress or anxiety that comes with applying for jobs. Waiting for an email? Take a walk. Can’t think of the right words for your resume? Run an errand. Partly, new environments spark new thoughts, but it’s also nice to leave every once in a while. Folks working at offices get to leave the stress at the office; you should distance yourself from that every once in a while. (Maybe the “stress” of retirement is not exactly applicable in this conversation, but being cooped up isn’t good for any of us.)

Give Yourself Days Off

Just like you should depart from your home every few days for your sanity, taking a break is important too. I find that due to social interactions, my weekends often become my days off, but it can be any day of the week. It also can be just when you finish what you’re working on. Though it helps to get out of bed and put on real clothes every day, it’s also nice to take a day to sit in your pajamas and watch Netflix. You’ll come back refreshed.

Be Social

I mentioned social interactions – you should be having them. As an introvert, I can happily spend days in a row by myself, but it’s nice to talk to someone every once in a while. Call your mom. Text your pals. Go grab a drink with your fellow unemployed millennial. They might spark an idea or give you a hint towards a job opening or make sitting at home alone sound like a dream.

Make a To-Do List

Maybe this is just me, but I have to have everything written down or it doesn’t get done. I make daily, weekly, monthly to-do lists. Everything from laundry day to apply to a job to vacuuming to my super busy (non-existent) social calendar gets written down. It feels really nice to cross things off the list and means you won’t walk away forgetting to hit send on that email.

Finish One Task a Day

I’m stealing this one from my grandma – give yourself one task a day to complete… and then complete it. I make a goal of applying to two jobs a day or finishing my laundry. If I’m super motivated more things get crossed off the to-do list, but if I’m not feeling it, I can cross one thing off and the day isn’t wasted. For low motivation days, I focus on something simple like clearing all my emails into “important” and “clothes websites that I don’t have money for” or taking out the trash or decorating a corner of the apartment.

Have a Creative Outlet

For a while, my roommate would come home from work to find I had hung something new or moved something to a different corner of the apartment. It’s slowed down for now, but having a creative outlet gave me all sorts of stress relief. My mother quilts, I’ve taken up crafting or cross-stitching, others knit or paint or draw (or if I’m being generous here, write blog posts about riding their bike….). Creative pursuits (even poorly executed ones) are worth a small portion of your time.

Pay Attention to Your Productivity

Everyone works differently. Some people are night owls, others prefer the morning. Some people need to get everything done at once, others have to spread the task out. Some people require breaks between tasks, others need rewards for a full day’s work. Whatever your style is, follow it. And ignore all those Facebook articles about how the smartest people are most productive at 6 a.m. or whatever. You’re most productive when you’re most productive – pay attention to you.

Take a Shower

Last tip: take a shower. Showers are a nice refresh from the day before or the last job application. Also, you might not realize it, but you could smell. Just saying…

A Broad Abroad

london, Travel

I’ve studied abroad more times than the average human. I travelled to Paris and Nice the summer before high school, encouraging me to better utilize the French skills I thought I had. (Let’s just say the 13-ish years of French classes have made me nowhere near fluent.)

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The summer after my first year of college I went on a short-term study abroad trip with my university’s College of Education. The two weeks were a joke academically, but were a wonderful introduction to being in a foreign country, and I can’t complain about being able to travel from Paris to the South of France to Barcelona, Madrid, and Toledo. The next summer, I did another short-term trip through the CoE, this time to Italy and Greece. I had a blast.

 

 

I learned a few lessons on these trips though: 1. I was too independent to be forced into a group of 20 people who couldn’t figure out the French metro system to save their lives. 2. I wanted to interact with locals, not with Americans. 3. I was so freaking fortunate and privileged to be able to go on these trips.

My junior year was spent abroad: first in Sydney, Australia then in Stockholm, Sweden. My time in Sydney was spent attending Macquarie University, meeting Americans and Australians alike, taking Sociology classes, learning to order drinks at bars, pushing my introvert to its limits, and growing a heck of a lot. (Please send Tim Tams.)13606726_10208327169590741_2939824590994043790_n

Stockholm was a very different experience. I met next to no Swedes, ventured around Stockholm and Europe a heck of a lot, learned to pack a carryon for varying trip lengths, studied very rarely at Södertörns högsköla (in English, let’s be real), discovered the horrors of seasonal depression and the beauty of 22 hours of daylight in the summer. (My love affair with IKEA and Max Burgers continues to this day.)42593388_10217577769095213_5706831081802563584_o

When I was finishing my undergrad, it was only logical that I seize the opportunity to go abroad one last time, so I applied to do a Master’s degree abroad. The financial benefits were there, it was one year compared to two in the US, and it would be a new opportunity to travel and meet new people. In retrospect, it would have been nice to better research my program before I went and I probably could have better selected my courses. But overall, I can’t say I regret going to London.

Would I study abroad again? In a heart beat. Is studying abroad the same as traveling abroad? Absolutely not. Did I meet the best people everywhere I went? 100 percent. Am I so freaking fortunate to have this many once in a lifetime experiences? Heck yes.

 

P.S. If you have ANY questions about studying abroad, please let me know – I’m more than happy to chat about any of my experiences for months.

P.P.S. I did some “research” on the term “broad”, which seems to have originated in the 1930s to refer to women by their “wideness”, which is icky (also it mostly referred to prostitutes which like makes me frustrated by the historical objectification of women in a patriarchal society, but…). I’m going off the Urban Dictionary definitions here to justify my “clever title”: less respectable than a lady, but more respectable than a bitch. I’m not mad at it.

Application Season

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So unfortunately, it is time for me to begin the process I have been dreading since Senior year: applying for a proper adult job.

See, I got out of adulting by going to grad school. I lived in student housing, had a part-time job and kept telling myself that I’d worry about getting a job once I had another degree. And who knew? maybe I’d end up with another degree or in law school…

Then when the end was near and I couldn’t hide behind the safety net that academia had provided me for the past five years, I panicked. I was running out of time to write a dissertation, apply for jobs, see London, say goodbye to friends. Adulthood was only a few weeks away and it felt like it had crept up on me when I was looking the other direction.

So I began a frantic wave of applications, sending out as many as I felt qualified to handle. Cover letters added stress to the final edits of my dissertation and moving out. I sent out application after application for internships and fellowships and jobs, rarely receiving a response back whether positive or negative.

Finally as I was beginning to panic, I got an internship. It was unpaid, but it was an internship. And it was somewhere exciting and new and relevant to the paths I was considering pursuing. It seemed like the perfect way to push-off adulthood for another semester.

But that semester is coming to an end. I am almost out of the appropriate timeframe for thinking about life in terms of semesters. And I have no idea what’s coming next.

This is my procrastination. I should be bragging about how clever and interesting I am in twenty cover letters or rewording a description about working with three-year olds for four summers to better apply my resume to a position in foreign affairs, but it’s just so difficult.

Times running out and the idea of leaving this internship with no future prospects is terrifying, but adulting is hard.

Maybe I’ll take Hemingway’s advice and write drunk before editing sober (but then I’d be hungover for work the next day). Or maybe I’ll just wait for my mom to take pity on me and help me write these daunting documents that could decide whether or not I end up with a job in the next few months.

Or maybe I’ll just put off adulting for one more year and apply to another Master’s…

Binging/Bingeing

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I binge. I watch hours of the same television show multiple days in a row, and then I forget about it for months. I read the same book from start to finish, and then I go weeks without even reading a magazine article. I devour YouTube videos locked away in my room, and then I completely move on.

It’s not that I lose interest or something else comes along, but my brain prefers to scoop up all the information or entertainment that it can before shifting focus.

It’s the same with writing.

When I first started a blog, I thought I would write weekly. I needed to get all my feelings about traveling out to the masses at weekly intervals so that they would be both satisfied and not overwhelmed. But then I myself became overwhelmed.

I moved home. I got an internship, working 9 to 5 everyday and commuting 2 hours everyday. I didn’t have time to come home and reminisce on the travels I was fortune enough to experience years ago. My focus was on staying calm as I dealt with regular social interaction on a daily basis, while also taking on the stress of what I’ll be doing after the New Year (I’m an introvert, through and through. I recharge by being alone, which is something of a challenge when working in a social office and then living with your parents.).

All this stress and cover letter writing, and the month of September flew by, and here comes November. Last year, I completed National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Over the month of November 2017, I wrote 50,000 words of a “novel”. It was a rough, rough draft, much of it simply the result of brain dumps that vaguely related to a topic. I haven’t looked at it since, but I enjoyed the sensation of finally giving in to what I had been thinking about writing for years. It was on paper (well, on a word document, but same thing) and not written on scraps of paper (well, iPhone notes, but same thing) fluttering about.

It was probably not my best idea, as I was also in the middle of a Master’s and was stressed enough without an additional burden. But that was always my excuse. NaNoWriMo is every year, every November. There would always be something to keep me from writing.

So as I sit here on my semi-abandoned blog debating whether I will be too stressed/busy/overwhelmed/social to write 50,000 words of a “novel” this year, I can’t help but think this would be a good binge. Write 50,000 words in a month and then take a few months off. But at least I’ll’ve caught that focus before my attention went elsewhere.

P.S. Is it binging or bingeing? I can’t decide since neither looks quite right. If you have any input on this debate, I’d appreciate it. ktnks.