Archives for the month of: January, 2014

MaryKate:

I just read a post from Glamour that made its way to MSN.com about how many people have a mindset that “30 is the new 20” (http://living.msn.com/life-inspired/30-is-not-the-new-20-but-is-that-bad-or-good-for-us). The post (written by an unnamed 29 year old woman) briefly outlines the message of a TED talk given by clinical psychologist Meg Jay, in which she discusses the tendency of many 20-somethings (Generation Y or Millennials) to tell themselves that age 30 is the milestone by which they should measure their success. The author goes on to describe her own ideas about Jay’s message and how they relate to her, personally. Meg Jay mentions some excuses that many of us use to explain why we’re not achieving our desired goals, whether personally or professionally: “This relationship isn’t great, but I’m just killing time. I’ll just bartend for now and as long as I figure out a career by the time I’m 30, it’s fine.” Jay wants 20-somethings to stop being comfortable with that mindset; in fact, she argues that many milestones occur in our 20s and we should take advantage of those instead of procrastinating. She goes on to list three things that 20-somethings can do with their lives right now, instead of depending on a fuzzy point in the future when everything will “come together”:

1. “Forget about having an identity crisis; get some identity capital.” By this she means, do something that adds value to who you are. Exploring new opportunities is great, but only if they count. Otherwise, you’re just procrastinating.

2. “The urban tribe is overrated.” Friends are great, but your “weak ties”—friends of friends of friends—are where the opportunities are going to come from. Expand your circle.

3 . “The time to start picking your family is now.” Jay says that the best time to start working on your marriage is before you have one. You don’t have to be married by 25, but stop wasting time and look for what you want now.

According to Jay, I, as a 20-something who hasn’t accomplished all that I desire yet, should concentrate on these three goals instead of waiting for the magical age of 30 when all of life’s problems are resolved and everything has worked out for me (right, everyone? That’s what happens when a person turns 30?).

I can’t say I completely agree with Jay on these three tips; much like the author of the article, I think some balance can be achieved in my life. Personally, I feel a bit stressed out when I read this short list because I don’t think I’m actively working towards achieving any of these small goals; however, the more I think about it, the more I’m comfortable with what I am doing day-to-day to become the person I want to be. For example, item #1 on her list suggests to me that some of my current hobbies or activities can be seen as procrastination, instead of a way to de-stress or enjoy myself. I disagree with that; I don’t believe that everything I do should boost my professional image. Sure, I want to look and act my best most of the time, but honestly, sometimes I want to watch three seasons of a TV show on Netflix over the weekend in my sweatpants. Yes, that could be called procrastination, but I don’t think I need to be so hard on myself. I do think some activities I’m doing right now adds value to the person I am; for example, I’ve always loved to write and I get to contribute to this amazing blog twice a month. I may not be making earth-shattering statements on here, but I humbly type away on this computer because I enjoy it. As crazy as my job can be sometimes, I enjoy putting out a well-edited academic journal with my name on it because I know that I worked hard and did my best. These two things are adding to my positive personal image just as much as my love of plunking down in a comfy chair at the end of the day and reading quietly, in my opinion.

I think while trying to look for a career, or a relationship, or a new path in life, it’s too easy to put things on the backburner. Procrastination is very convenient; I can keep chugging along in a particular situation and tell myself I’m just figuring it all out. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and tell myself that things will change…eventually. Here is where I agree with Jay: things won’t happen unless I make them happen, or at least give it a good try. My fellow Millenials and I are facing a tough time in the job market right now: things are getting better, things are getting worse. We hear both extremes every day. Many of us have student loans and we might not be getting the jobs we thought we’d get with our degrees. It’s a scary time to be striking out on your own, but I also think it’s a perfect time for 20-somethings to take control and maybe make a few of our own rules. Who says we have to be married by 25? These days, people are settling down later and later and I am okay with that idea. Do I have to be settled into my lifelong career by 27? I still feel as though I’m learning and growing in the job I have now; I’m still looking for new opportunities.

Much like the author of the article says, we don’t have to know all the answers in our twenties, but I think we should be working toward our own answers. Maybe Meg Jay’s advice works for you or maybe it doesn’t. Isn’t it more important to be satisfied with yourself? If you’re happy with your life, who’s to say you’re doing anything wrong? The important message I’m trying to get across is to not pressure yourself. Take yourself seriously, but allow time for relaxation and a little silliness, too. Right now, I am part of a powerful generation: we are Millennials and we have options. I think those are some pretty powerful things to have.

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Heidi:

I’m working on it.

In the comments of my last blog, Karen noted the difference between actions preceded by stress and actions preceded by excitement.  Stress is debilitating.

When I’m stressed I forget what I like to do.  Example: dancing.  My friends wanted to go out to the bar to dance last Friday.  In the middle of the day, I honestly regretted making the plans.  When it was time to pick everyone up, I was still feeling wary.  But guess what? As soon as I picked the first of my friends up, she had me laughing so hard my stomach hurt.  By the time everyone was in my car I was smiling and couldn’t believe I had almost canceled.

We got to the bar started dancing even though no one else was.  Some weird looks were thrown our way, but hey, I’m not going to wait for other people to start having fun before I give myself permission to do the same.

While we were dancing, about four guys in a group came up to us to dance.  None of them wanted to do the grinding, butt to crotch dance.  Instead, we all danced in a circle/clump.  We clapped our hands and kicked our feet into the center of the circle.  This went on for two and a half hours.  The best part about the night: I lost track of time.*

I didn’t have a single stick-out thought while dancing.  No piercing anxieties were in my head.  It was akin to a runner’s high.  It was a dancer’s high– or maybe a being-connected-to-people-high.  (Keep in mind I was sober. i.e. no help from alcohol).

Lesson learned: human connection is great.  Butt to crotch dancing is not. Hah! Just kidding, if that floats your boat.  In all seriousness, sometimes you have to remember what makes you happy and do it–even if you don’t feel like it.

This has been my cover photo on facebook and twitter for so long and it has never seemed more appropriate than at this moment.

This has been my cover photo on facebook and twitter for so long and it has never seemed more appropriate than at this moment.

*[This is a video of a choir that exemplifies a beautiful, shared humanity like my dancing experience. Especially at the end where they all hold hands and sing.  For some reason, I feel like it’s a very human thing to do.  It made me tear up.  Check out their version of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’: Kokopelli with Òran]

Marykate:

Yesterday afternoon, I walked to the train station with a coworker and we discussed our job (we both started on the same day). We have gone through similar emotions since we started back in late September: excitement, anxiety, fear (yes, even fear; mostly that we would make mistakes that can’t be fixed!), and now we’re both at a stage where we feel content. I am so grateful that I have this job and that I have the opportunity to learn every day, but I have also come to the conclusion that getting this position has only changed my status from unemployed to employed. It hasn’t changed who I am as a person.

My family and friends have all said at various times that I won’t love my first job and I listened to them; but there was that one tiny sliver of hope that maybe I would be the exception to the rule. Let me make it abundantly clear, though, that I do NOT hate my job; in fact, I am pleased with my work. I am , like a lot of other people, just chasing that elusive “perfect” job in which I will be blissfully happy doing life-altering, low-stress work for the good of the world. I hope I don’t sound sarcastic or bitter because I don’t mean to sound that way. I want this post to be a reflection on the realities of a career versus my unrealistic expectations.

I read a short article on MSN yesterday morning titled “7 ways to pull yourself out of a work rut” (http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-3524-Workplace-Issues-7-ways-to-pull-yourself-out-of-a-work-rut/) and I think that may have fueled my desire to write this post. One particular quote from the article jumped out at me almost immediately: “While searching for a new job is always an option, it’s not always the right answer. You may take your problems with you, and you may end up in a rut again.” This brought to mind my feelings when I was in that transition year from graduation from grad school until I was hired at my current position; I thought, naively, that finding a job would solve all my problems. While a full-time job certainly helps with my bills, it does not improve my relationships with friends and family. My job gives me something to work for, but it does not accomplish my “five year plan” goals for me. Basically, I’m just now realizing that I am the only person who can make sure that I am happy, fulfilled, and confident. A new job, new clothes, a new car, or a new place to live won’t do that for me.

I meant for this post to be a positive one and I hope whoever is reading this is getting the positive message: you are in charge of your destiny. You have all the tools you need to accomplish your short-term and long-term goals! The more I think about it, the more excited I get. I don’t have to wait for anyone but myself to start working toward the kind of person I want to be.

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wateringcan

Heidi:

My last semester of college starts in two weeks and my parents are telling me to chill out on the job search.  This is backwards, right?

I feel sad when my dad reminds me that there are seasons for everything.  He tells me I need to enjoy school while I can. “There will be plenty of time for work, getting experience, and internships, but only this time for school,” he says.

Of course I want to enjoy school and not worry my future.  Like freshman year.  But those days are gone.  My mind has expanded to see the possibility of the future and it cannot un-know these things. After this summer, I’ve had a small taste of real world experience.  I see what the future can offer me if I work hard enough.  I tell this to my dad and he asks, “What’s the hurry?” The hurry is I want to be happy and there’s a lot of work to be done if that is the case.

Though when I look back to last semester, I know my dad is right. He’s trying to prevent what happened which included me spending much of my time stressed out and worried for my future.  I planned and worked as hard as I could.  Pleasant and helpful Heidi wasn’t around too often.  I think I “lost myself” a bit.  Maybe I was “growing” like people keep telling me I was.  But I can’t help feeling that I wasn’t growing all the parts of me that matter.  Like my creative energy, my compassion, and helpfulness.  This semester I want to water the parts of me that I neglected so that I can grow in those areas too.

I am tempted to say that once I have more control or a clearer idea of the future, I can be a better person.  But I can’t use not being in control of my future as an excuse.  Because the fact is, I’ve never been in control of my future.  None of us are.  Not now, not ever.

The New Year has started and you may have made a resolution.  Let’s do this together.  Are you ready to try it again? Get your watering can and join me in nurturing the parts of yourself that you may have neglected last year.  Let’s do this!

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