Things I wish I knew in high school

Our high school peers can be a valuable network. 

I didn’t like high school much, I wouldn’t want to go back, and when I left I didn’t think I’d see most people again. Social media makes it easier to keep in touch, so I’m still in touch with people from both high school and college. The thing I never thought of as a teen is this: the people you know in school (whether it’s high school or university) are future professionals. The people you know will eventually work in a variety of different fields, and they’ll be the ones you can ask questions or learn more about an industry through.

Weigh your options.

When I went to college, I knew exactly what I wanted to study, but I never really weighed my options to see what else schools had to offer. I didn’t take the time to really look through all of the departments, and if I had, I probably would have found a balance sooner between following my passion and earning a living.

Know that things change.

As a teen, I felt so so so much pressure to figure out what I would do! For! The rest! Of my life! But honestly? Like the real honest truth? All of that is a myth. Lots of people, if not most, change careers at some point in their life. There are people who become accountants, teachers, doctors, or psychologists, only to leave the field and do something else.

That’s not a bad thing (even if it might sound like a waste of money from all the degrees). But it is a fact of life. People change and grow. What you want at 18 or 24 might not be what you want at 29 or 35. You don’t need to know what you want to do forever. But finding something you can see yourself doing for at least years is a good place to start. Once you have experience in one field, it’s easier to find ways to apply those skills to another.

Don’t take life too seriously. 

School and building a career is a lot of work. It’s important to work hard and study and try your best, but you want to make time for fun and good memories, too. The career path you choose in your studies might not last forever (or who knows, it just might!), but you’ll likely have relationships and friendships that last for many years. Those will be some of the most valuable things to take from your years in school.

Blaze a trail.

The truth is, there’s no “one size fits all” advice. You might have someone who chooses to study engineering and builds a career in that, or you might have another person who graduates with that same degree, only to decide, ‘This career is not right for me.’ You can have someone who studies Musical Theater and finds different jobs they like after college, then you’ll have others who study the arts and struggle to pay the bills for a while.

It can really go either way, regardless of what career path you try. You have to find the balance between doing something that makes you happy, and doing something that makes you money. For many people, this means experimenting, trying out different things, and learning more about themselves before finding a path to “settle” on. But the truth is, I don’t think we ever settle. I think we’re always evolving, and you just kind of have to be along for the ride.

Your 20s will be one big experiment. 

Very few people have their shit together in their 20s, regardless of how their lives may look on social media. People are figuring out their careers, and their love lives, and whether they want children, and where they want to live, and (for those in the U.S), making sure they still have health insurance after they turn 26. It’s a long road with a lot of (really) big decisions.

Overall, I think you just have to remember to breathe. Most decisions are not final (except, ya know, having children. That’s a bit more permanent than most things lol). But overall, you have a lifetime to learn, grow, and try new things. The time also goes by fast. It can be stressful, but try to make time for fun and to be happy. You’ll go through career highs and lows, honeymoon phases and heartbreaks, decisions you’re proud of and things you would do differently if you could. It’s quite a journey, but you learn a lot and become more You than you’ve ever been.

Advertisements

My Career Goals Over the Years

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We all get asked this question at various stages in our lives. What no one tells you is that adults still feel as though they are wandering, and they still ask themselves this question. I think the U.S has an especially career-centric culture, in some places more than others. I live in New York, and while I live in the suburbs, I feel like there’s still a very fast-paced atmosphere where “What do you do?” is the first thing someone asks you.

I definitely know of people who say they don’t need a career that defines them. They feel a job is just a job, and it allows them to put food on the table and that’s all that matters. I sort of envy people who genuinely feel this way. Having a career that I can be passionate about has always been important to me. And I want to surround myself with people who feel passionately about their work as well. I don’t think people who value their careers are necessarily happier, in fact I think people like this are never satisfied, but I do think they’re the ones who blaze trails. I want to blaze a trail and leave my mark on the world.

Still, I wasn’t one of the those people who’s always known what she wanted to be. When I was a kid, the first career I remember aspiring to was wanting to be a pastry chef. I told my mom that I would open a bakery and make cupcakes for her all the time.

When we played the game Life (ya know, that board game that takes a hellishly long time to complete), I always was excited when I was able to pick the artist card for my career. Instinctively I knew I just NEEDED to be some sort of artist. And in many ways, I’ve done that for the past few years. I’ve written a bunch of poetry and fiction, wrote for a magazine, made lots of art, and I’ve been very poor.

No one tells you how lonely and challenging being an artist can really be. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. But I realized that being able to support myself and having something to fall back on is super important. I can’t rely on getting a job by chance, like my parents many other Boomers did.

When I was a little older, I decided I wanted to be an interior designer. I thought that sounded like the funnest job ever (and I still do!), and I used to draw designs in my sketch pad.

Sometime around middle school, my aspirations became more social. I went through a phase where I wanted to be a massage therapist, and I would give massages to people in my family. By the time I reached high school, I’d decided that I wanted to be a pediatrician because I wanted to help kids.

Through all of these ideas, the arts were still very important to me. They were my passion. I still liked to draw and write poetry. I liked singing in my music classes. I didn’t always like high school, but my arts classes always kept me going. Things really changed for me in the tenth grade when I started acting.

I performed, took acting classes, did shows through my church, and took every opportunity I could to stay involved with theater. During my senior year, I attended an arts high school alongside my regular one and was a drama major there. I was surrounded by lot of other people who planned to study theater in college, so it inspired me to pursue theater in college as well.

By the time I’d taken my SAT’s and applied to college, I’d decided that I wanted to pursue a career as an actress. I went on auditions, and got accepted to a few theater programs. It was all really fun! But by the time I’d gotten to college, I felt really pressured to have a plan for my life, and I just didn’t have one.

I had way too many passions that I wanted to follow my career. I wanted to act, I wanted to write, I wanted to sing, I wanted to help people. I wanted too many things at once, and it gave me a lot of stress. By my sophomore year, I’d changed my major to English so I could focus on writing, but I still had a lot of ambition with no real plan.

It’s not that I thought a theater or English degree would get me a job. But I did think that, like most people I knew, I could get a job unrelated to what I studied. I imagined myself working in an office somewhere while I pursued my art on the side, or maybe working in advertising or publishing. I didn’t realize how hard it would really be to get a job in the communications field.

Now, I’m back to having goals in more social careers. I’m pursuing a master’s degree in social work, and I have a plan to be a mental health counselor, or to work in higher education as a career counselor, professor, or some sort of program director. It’s good, because it fulfills that desire I’ve always had to help others.

As for the artist in me, she’s still there, burning with lots of passion but not much direction unfortunately. I’ve done a lot of writing, but it’s not all I want to do, and it’s not all I want to be known for. I want to keep writing, but I also want to make visual art. I want to perform. I want to use the arts to address social issues as well. This is an area where I don’t have as concrete of a vision, probably because it’s much more self-motivated than other kinds of work, and it’s motivated by something other than money.

I learned a few years ago that my career types are artistic, social, and investigative. This makes a lot of sense, and it fits in with everything I’ve ever wanted to do. My personality type is also INFJ, and being an artist and social worker fits well with that as well. It feels good to know that there’s different types of work that can fit each of us.

I’m 24, and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But I have more clarity than I did before, I’m more knowledgeable about my opportunities. I don’t want a job that’s just a job. I want something I can be passionate about. My ambitions have changed a bit over the years, but one thing hasn’t. I don’t want to settle. I want to find work that is right for me.

5 Online Literary Magazines To Read With Your Morning Coffee

The sun rises, you greet the day, and start your morning off with a nice cup of coffee. You have something good to eat, like a buttered roll, an egg sandwich, or strawberries with whipped cream. The only thing that could make this better would be having something lovely to read. These five online lit mags can make your morning even sweeter.

Carve Magazine – Named after short story writer and poet Raymond Carver, this magazine publishes beautiful short stories, poems, interviews, and more. In order to enjoy the full content, you have to purchase the magazine in print. However, the short stories, described as “honest fiction,” are free to read on their website.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency is described as a “daily humor website.” The content published is funny, clever, and is sure to help you start your day with a smile.

The Barcelona Review – This magazine is special because it is published in four languages: English, Spanish, Catalan, and French. They publish charming fiction and essays. Be sure to check them out.

Sula Collective – This online magazine is “for & by people of colour.” They publish art, comics, film, music playlists, poetry, fiction, essays, and interviews. It’s a lovely example of how lit mags can promote a diverse range of artists.

Shimmer – Shimmer is a short story zine that seeks to publish work by writers from all walks of life. They encourage work from, but not limited to: “people of color, LBGTQIA, women, the impoverished, the elderly, and those with disabilities.” At the bottom right-hand corner of their home page, you can choose stories to read by category.

Bonus:

Rattle – Rattle is a popular magazine that publishes poetry and artwork. A new poem is featured daily on their website.

Shade Zine – This is not a literary magazine, but it’s still worth checking out. Published on Tumblr, this zine is about art, the culture surrounding it, interviews, and ideas.

Sometimes you need to start your day off with some art and inspiration. Finding a literary magazine you enjoy can help you do just that. If you fall in love with one of these zines, consider supporting them by buying print copies, subscribing, checking out their merchandise, or making a donation. Above all, read and enjoy ❤

On Happiness

I’m curious about happiness. About joy, inner peace, and how it works. What does it really mean to live a happy life? Society tells us about all the things we should want to have. A job, a spouse, a family, a house, a car. Most of us aspire to have those things in some shape or form, and many of us feel depressed or inadequate if we have none or only a few of those things. Maybe we have a good job, but feel incomplete if we are single. Or maybe we have a good relationship, but feel like failures because we don’t have our careers figured out.

Some people have all of these things, and they are still not happy. They achieve all the things that society approves of, but they still find they are not satisfied. Why is that? And what does that mean for those of us who are still working toward being “successful” adults? I know that you can have everything and still not be happy, but I still feel miserable over all the things I don’t have yet.

This kind of unhappiness stems from constantly being in a state of pursuing something, and feeling unsatisfied because it feels so out of reach. But how can you pursue goals, especially those you need to achieve (like getting a job) without feeling depressed about not having one? I guess the answer is to focus on the process and not the outcome, and to appreciate the things you have that are within your control. I think most spiritual ideas are also verbs. Love is a verb. It requires action. Happiness does, too.

If I think of people who I look up to who seem to live joyous lives, not many people genuinely come to mind. I think of people like Ellen DeGeneres, who dedicates her life to inspiring others. She eats healthy, exercises, meditates, and practices kindness. I think of Oprah, who continues to give back and inspire people through her many platforms. In many ways I think of Miley Cyrus, who also devotes much of her time to helping others, and loving animals, eats healthy, and practices yoga. Marie Forleo, who inspires others through her TV show. Evanna Lynch who inspires others, eats healthy, and loves animals.

Rachel Platten who inspires others through her music. The common theme here seems to be people who spend their time being kind to others, and also being kind to themselves. And those who are able to incorporate that into their life’s work. I think these are also people who don’t worry about the status quo. They don’t care what others think of them, but they do care about where they are on a spiritual level.

So maybe it’s not my purpose to get a job, get married, get a house, and have a car, even if those are things I try to pursue. But maybe it’s my purpose to be kind to others, and to myself. I also think you can’t help others unless you are connecting to your own source of light and inspiration, and I think for many people that comes from connecting to God, a higher power, nature, or the universe. And there are many things, many windows and doors through which we can connect with that.

Whether it’s through music, books, film, conversations, prayer, nature, or stillness. Like Audrey Hepburn says, “we have one hand for helping others and another hand for helping ourselves.” I do think it has to start with us though. I think the idea is that if you get inspired and find your source of light, peace, and joy, you’ll be able to share that with others. Because you’ll shine.

So maybe life is really about pursuing not things, but moments. Moments where we pause and enjoy nature, or just take the time to smile or drink tea. Moments of peace.

While I do think that people who help others is a common theme for a joyous life, it is also possible to do this only to be burnt out. Sometimes people forget to be kind to themselves. I think one reason children tend to be so happy is because they are given so much joy by the caring people around them. We make sure the messages they receive are positive and affirming.

The world is not always so kind, the older you get. You have to find that support for yourself. And I think we need to support each other.

I certainly don’t have the secrets to a joyous or peaceful life. They say you should spend your money or experiences, not things. Maybe life is like that, too. We should be pursuing experiences, not things.

.

#MyThoughts

Trying to find my way

Nothing much to say. Applying for jobs is a soul-sucking experience. It’s impossible to do it without feeling sad. I don’t understand why basic survival has to be placed so far out of reach, especially for recent college grads. I feel like everything I want to do isn’t realistic. I don’t know where to start so that I can have my own life. I’m feeling pretty lost and hopeless and I don’t know when things will get better.

I know lots of people can relate to these feelings. Hopefully we can get through it all together.

 

Apps to Help You Stay Hydrated

Summer time is here! And between balancing work, family, chores, and vacation-planning, it can be easy to forget to make our health a top priority. As the days get hotter and we spend more time outdoors, an important part of staying healthy is to drink plenty of water. Not only is staying hydrated a basic way to help us, well, NOT die, but it also helps us to have healthy skin, hair, and nails. It improves our circulation, helps us to cool off, helps us to take a moment to relax, keeps our lips from getting super chapped, and helps to cleanse our bodies of toxins (you know what they say, to avoid a hangover, drink water).

In addition to being super busy, it can also be hard to stay hydrated when our first instinct is to grab a beverage that doesn’t do a great job of hydrating us. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t crack open that can of soda or poor yourself an ice-cold glass of juice from concentrate. It’s all about having things in moderation. If you enjoy a sugary beverage, but you feel you could use more refreshing water in your life, here are a few apps that can help you stay hydrated all summer long:

iDrated. Based on the name, you can tell that this app was created by Apple and for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch users. After including some basic information about yourself, iDrated helps you to track how much water you drink throughout the day, gives you some insight into how hydrated you are, and allows you to set reminders for when you should drink water next.

WaterLog. This app is available for free in the Google Play store. It allows you to keep track of how much water you drink, lets you set reminders to drink more throughout the day, and allows you to keep track of how well you’ve reached your daily hydration goals.

Drinking Water. This app is also available for free in the Google Play store. The concept is simple. You set a goal for how many cups of water you want to drink each day, and you set times for the app to remind you when to drink a cup. If you turn your phone horizontally, the app will show you how many cups of water you drank each day. The description in the app says you can also use it for beer.

 

These are a few of many apps that can help you to drink more water. Keep in mind that while notifications can provide you with good reminders, no one can know what your body needs more than you do. There may be days where you need to drink more (like if you spend hours in the hot sun), and other days where you might not need to drink as much (like if you spend the day in an air-conditioned room binge-watching Netflix and napping).

The point of all of this is so that you can be your healthiest and best version of yourself. If you need extra reminders to take care of yourself, like with anything else, there’s probably an app for that. And above all, listen to your body. Because at the end of the day, it knows best.

.

[Disclaimer: I am not certified to give any kind of health-related advice. This is simply an informative article to provide apps you may use at your own discretion].

 

Life after college: hacking my education

There’s a lot of pressure when you graduate from college. It feels like you’re expected to automatically start doing big, amazing things (while earning an impressive paycheck). But the reality is, transitioning into the “real world” doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. Life is a journey and we are always growing.

There’s also this feeling that adulthood is this one, big thing that we have to have all planned out. But the truth is, it’s not like that at all. Everyday is a new beginning. And a new chance to learn, grow, connect, create, and be our best selves.

I spent a long time feeling stressed out about whether I should go to grad school or not. I still might, but I know if I do it, it will be for the same reason I did undergrad. Not for money or a job, but for personal enrichment.

School provides structure and gives you an idea for what a few years of your life will look like, and that’s super tempting to go back to. But it also costs a lot of money. And unless you have a specific career in mind (that you will actually enjoy doing), it’s not always worth the investment.

I realize that I don’t need grad school or community college to learn new skills. I want to attend workshops and learn new skills outside of traditional classrooms. There’s several things I’d like to learn more about, from coding to design to business. I want to hack my education, because the truth is, there is always room to grow and to better myself.

Having a degree gives you certain credentials, and how much you need advanced degrees depends on the job you want. I know that I don’t want to be limited to doing one kind of job, and so I want to do what I can to keep my options open.

I’ve been out of college for a year, and my idea of what I want in life has changed a lot as I’ve experienced different things. I realize that I need to be patient and open-minded. This is my journey, and I am doing just fine with where I am.

I used to think it was so important to have a career. But what matters to me now is having a Life’s Work. There are some kinds of work that you will do, and maybe it won’t get you a lot of money, but it’s still valid and it still matters.

I’m trying to take life one day at a time. And trying not to worry about the future. I don’t need to impress anyone or live the way anyone else thinks I should live.

The world is my oyster. And as I think about hacking my education, gaining new skills, and trying different things, I feel like that statement is true.

I’m doing okay, and so are you.

.

#MyThoughts