Imperfection is Part of the Art

If you look back at pictures of me in college, you’ll notice that I almost always had my nails painted. I used to spend two hours at a time giving myself a manicure just like you get at the salon.

I’ve probably painted my nails  five times in the past five years. There are a bunch of reasons for that, but the most troubling and prevailing reason I don’t paint my nails anymore is because I often don’t have two hours to spend doing nothing with my hands, applying coats and waiting for them to dry. So I resign to doing nothing, despite the desire to have my nails painted.

I realized last night that my perfectionism is seeping into the most mundane things in my life.

I do not paint my nails anymore because if I can’t do it correctly and perfectly, I will not do it at all.

I am so blindly type A that I will not paint my nails if I can not do it exactly like I want to. Like it will somehow mean something if I *gasp* apply one coat of polish to a bare nail.

*insert eye roll here*

I’ve been slowly realizing how often I get the urge to do something perfectly, and how often I painstakingly follow through with that urge. Or, I know that I cannot do it perfectly and decide not to do it at all because if you can’t do it right, you have no business doing it at all.

That kind of thinking should really be reserved for people making precise, life and death movements. You know, like surgeons or rocket scientists, or the bomb squad. Me? The most life and death I get is getting behind the wheel of a car or chopping vegetables with a very sharp knife.

I do not need to stay so tightly wound. I do not need to exist in a purely perfect state of being. In fact, that’s impossible. So the illusion I’ve been keeping up of needing to do everything perfectly is a joke I’ve been playing on myself for years.

I made a vision board for 2017 and one of my favorite sentences I pieced together reads, “Imperfection is part of the art.” If you want to create something or do something you haven’t done before, you can’t be afraid of a little imperfection.

Here’s to one coat manicures, crooked lines, and asymmetrical pieces.

A Letter to 18 Year Old Me on My 26th Birthday

Hello. It’s me.

I remember thinking about what my life would be like by the time I was the age I am now. I had a vision in mind: job that pays the bills (thanks, college education!), own a home, be married (note to self: find suitor).

Dear 18 year old me,
It ain’t happenin’ like you ‘planned’. Continue reading

Girl on girl judgment: We should be raising each other up, not tearing each other down

Today I want to talk about capital-j Judgment.

It’s human nature to judge others. In a primitive sense, judgment is what keeps us alive.

But what purpose does judgment serve in, say, the People of Walmart? Or in snidely judging that ‘big’ girl at the gym? Or in the tabloids, where celebrities are constantly scrutinized? What does this judgment get us? Where does it get us? Nowhere but a few thousand steps backward, honestly.

Being Judgey McJudgerson makes us feel better about ourselves. Judgment is a coping mechanism Continue reading

8 Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive at a Conference

8 Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive at a Conference

I’ve been to four NACADA/advising conferences since 2012, and I didn’t know a single soul at any of them. The thing that makes that especially notable: I’m a fierce introvert. It’s easy to go to sessions and at the end of the week go home full of new ideas and not much else. I am living, breathing proof that anyone can not only survive a conference, but thrive there!

  1. Before you leave home, make some friends! There are countless people involved in higher education on social media, and engaging with a few people who are going to the same conference as you are will set you up to meet some folks once you arrive. Most conferences have Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags you can use to find others who are headed where you’re headed.
  2. If you can swing it, stay where the conference is being held. Not only will you have the greatest commute in the morning, but you have the flexibility to stick around if you’re invited to dinner or drinks at the end of the day. Always say yes to these invitations! Plus, you can freshen up mid-day, and you don’t have to wait in line for the bathroom between sessions if you don’t want to.
  3. Volunteer. Do as much as you can stand. Volunteering is a fantastic way to meet the people who are running the conference and putting in more work than you have ever even considered. (The amount of work, thought, effort, and personal time that goes into putting together a conference is so great. If you think about it, every piece of a conference is carefully orchestrated. Volunteering helps you realize and appreciate that!)
  4. Do not retreat. I repeat: do not retreat. Conferences can feel like an endless parade of interaction, conversation, and being “on”. And they are. You may have the urge to skip sessions, happy hours, or organized dinners. Do not do this. It can be exhausting, but you need to take solace in the alone time that you get in the bathroom, or going to your room to grab your coat. Coffee will be a big help if you’re not a naturally inclined conversation starter.
  5. Make friends with your neighbors. The most wonderful thing about conferences is that you’re rarely sitting in one place for more than an hour. So in each session, you’re likely to have new neighbors. Talk to them! Don’t just shuffle your papers and look at your phone! We are all guilty of this! You never know who you’re sitting next to, and a conversation can lead to a joint session proposal venture, friendship, or who knows, maybe you’ll end up working with them someday!
  6. Be bold. It’s easy to sit with your friends in any instance. Break out of habit at breakfast and lunch and sit with people you don’t know. I have never ever been turned away by asking, “Is this seat taken?” Conferences are equal parts sharing, learning, and networking. Don’t neglect the networking part!
  7. Remember your business cards. This seems like a no-brainer, but in talking to my fellow conference attendees, it’s come up more than once that they forgot their business cards at one point, went to give one to someone and realized they were still in their room. When you leave your room, check that you have your keys, phone, wallet, and business cards. As a safeguard, put a few in your wallet, just in case. As I like to say: can’t hurt, might help.
  8. Have fun, and be yourself! While you’re busy learning, connecting, and sharing, don’t forget to have fun. Conferences are professional, but you don’t have to be all-business-all-the-time. (Ew.) Tell a joke, wish someone luck balancing four cups of coffee in one hand, tell someone about how you walked out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to your foot. It is the easiest endeavor in the world to forget that we’re all human, and connecting with your peers is a great reminder that we are all indeed human.

If you have any conference-going tips to get more out of your experience, I’d love for you to share in the comments. You can also tweet at me on Twitter @JessicaPhilo! Originally Published At

Resiliency, Disappointment, and Expectations: Helping Your Students Move Past it All

This week the topic of the Academic Advising Chat on Twitter was Resiliency, with a capital ‘R.’

Is resiliency fluid, or something you can only strengthen over time? Can you get it back if you feel like you’ve lost it? Merriam Webster defines resilience as “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.”

So, resiliency is something that you cannot simply possess. It’s not divine right. You have to learn to be resilient. Fair enough.

At this point in my life, I would call myself resilient. I would also call myself determined, creative, persistent, and innovative. And how did I get to be this way? Failing spectacularly, over and over again.

Amount of work is the same

Every time something doesn’t work out, there are two choices.

  1. Self Pity
  2. Deal with it

Walking through door number one can be extremely appealing. You know. Putting on comfy sweat pants, turning on Netflix, pouting, and putting that emergency Ben & Jerry’s to good use. Maybe there are tears, maybe there’s a feeling of emptiness. It’s like becoming a lump of immovable sadness.

Choosing door number two is a completely different experience. This guy embodies it perfectly.

What’s he doing? He’s making the best out of a situation that most of us would find infuriating. But it’s not so cut and dry. Not quite.

Disappointment is deeply intertwined with failure and/or rejection, and resilience. To borrow from this article from Psychology Today, “Disappointment comes with finality–the recognition that you don’t have, didn’t get, or will never achieve whatever it is that you wanted… Perhaps the way in which to foster resilience is to construct realistic appraisals of what you need, avoid idealizing what could be, and come to terms with what you have.”

You’re wonderful, and that’s not disputable.

We’ve come to expectations. Oh, expectations. You’re funny little things. Expectations can make or break an experience. It’s a fine line to tread, staying hopeful and trying to envision what could go right, but not dreaming too big in case things don’t work out. You have to keep expectations for things at an arm’s length. You’re wonderful, and that’s not disputable. Things don’t always work out and you need to be mentally prepared for that experience should it come about.

This is something that’s incredibly relevant in the field of academic advising, since there are tons of students dealing with their own resilience, disappointment, and expectations every day. Maybe they didn’t get into their major of choice; maybe they’re bombing their first major courses; maybe they’re struggling to balance their job and school; maybe their family doesn’t approve of their choices… There are innumerable things that will challenge our students’ sense of resiliency each and every day, and the more familiar we are with our own resiliency and how it feels to fail, the better we can serve them. Advising is teaching, after all!

What experiences have helped shape your sense of resilience? How can you, or do you, use those experiences to  in order to help your advisees get past a setback? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or mention me on @Twitter!

Resiliency, Disappointment, and Expectations- Helping Your Students Move Past it All -