“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. That’s not true, (I always do a lot of thinking) but I’ve been paging through this awesome book called Boomerang Kids by  Carl Pickhardt Ph.D. and it’s been very therapeutic for me. While I’m not a Boomerang Kid per se, if I didn’t have my awesome and reliable boyfriend and the support of my parents to live in Pittsburgh *deep inhale*… I’d live with one of my parents right now *deep exhale*. I have a full time retail job, which I’m grateful for, but with debt from my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I can’t pay all of my bills  or loan payments each month without some help. So. While I’m not a Boomerang Kid I identify with a lot of the strife that Boomerang Kids deal with. I’m telling you all of this because I’ve had a bit of a thought revelation while reading this book. But first, I want to rewind.

This past May I applied to a dream advising job. I got a call in June, and in quick succession had a phone interview an an in person interview all within a month and a half. Then, there was nothing. I’d dutifully hand written my thank you notes, and left behind a packet that contained a tailored sample advising syllabus, campus resources for the institution, my philosophy of advising, and my resume. I felt good about the interview, but not hearing back was starting to worry me. My confidence dwindled, and by the time I heard back from them and learned that I didn’t get the position, I was far from surprised. Heartbroken, but not surprised. I’m sure the candidate they chose is lovely and will do great things for their students, and I tried my best not to take it personally. Because it wasn’t personal at all.

I sort of went into mourning for the future that slipped through my fingers like a handful of sand, though. I let myself imagine what it would be like to get that job. I thought, ‘I could pay off a good chunk of my loans with the money that’s helping make ends meet where my paychecks don’t. I could have vacation time. I could have my own health insurance. I could walk to work on nice spring and summer days. I could have disposable income. I could have weekends and weeknights all to myself. I could start saving to buy a house.’ The thought police were nowhere to be found and I let my imagination run wild with the possibilities.

When it didn’t work out I was an emotional mess. My migraine free streak ended, and I started getting awful tension headaches that wouldn’t go away for anything, and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest a lot of the time. My anxiety and stress manifest with shortness of breath, so you’ll hear me sighing a lot not from discontent, but because I simply am not getting enough oxygen.

Fast forward to picking up this book at the library on a whim, and I started to identify with the young adults this book was describing. While it’s written for parents of Boomerang Kids and has a ton of good information about coping with your child while they struggle to get their feel on the ground, it’s undoubtedly helped me pick myself up and dust myself off.

One of my biggest problems is that I tend to view life in a formulaic way. Go to college, get degree, get job. No one ever told me it didn’t work that way for everyone. I was told I could do anything I wanted; the sky was the limit. I just needed to check off the correct boxes on the curriculum of life and I’d get where I wanted to go. While that’s true for a lot of people, it isn’t true for a lot of other people. I’ve been putting myself under a lot of pressure to get a job that utilizes my degree (or at least allows me to live a financially stable life) and I’ve been kicking myself while I’m already down. The longer it takes me to get where I want to be, the more I hold myself accountable. I get stressed and frustrated, and my body starts to break down. My self care has been at almost 0. I see all of my doctors regularly and I have a therapist, but I haven’t really been doing anything to actively check my state of mind. I used to do yoga. I used to paint my nails. I used to wear make up. I used to get massages. I used to treat myself occasionally.  I don’t do any of these things on a regular basis now. I haven’t felt that I deserve it. I’ve been punishing myself for not being where I want to be at this point in my life. I see others who are my age (and less educated than me!) that have the life I want and let me tell you, when they say, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy,’ that’s real. Really real.

So what’s the point of this story? Well, for one thing, the unrealistic expectations for myself end today. There’s a fine line between staying motivated and setting yourself up for failure and I crossed that line a while ago and I need to get back on the right side of things. It’s easy to feel like everything is your fault and that you’ve made many mistakes, but when you’re putting yourself out there and making an effort, your criticism of yourself becomes absolutely unhelpful and very hindering. Today’s the day I adopt the phrase, ‘Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up.’

A Newcomer’s Guide to Twitter 3.0

I wrote two separate Twitter how-to’s back in 2012 and I think it’s time for a bit of an update. While most of the information remains the same, Twitter looks quite a bit different than it did back in 2012. So buckle up and follow along, newbies! A newcomer's guide to #Twitter: The basics!

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My Explanatory Style, Well, Explained

I don’t know where to begin this post exactly, as I don’t know when exactly I became a pessimist. But I can’t remember a time when my glass wasn’t ‘half-empty.’ I used to find the metaphor immensely offensive, as I didn’t understand how anyone’s glass could be ‘half-full’. And what, pray tell, was so exactly wrong with my point of view? *Snark snark snark* So, I spent a vast majority of my 22 first years of life as a pessimist. When things weren’t going my way, it was really easy to talk myself into giving up, thinking things were my fault somehow, and thinking that things wouldn’t get better for me. Being a pessimist is really emotionally exhausting. And really discouraging. Imagine being hard on yourself for every awkward encounter, mistake, bad grade, and missed opportunity.

Optimists used to annoy me. What were they so happy about, anyway? How could they be so chipper; so resilient? How did they just bounce back from failure; rejection?

Things started to click into the summer of 2012. I started the academic advising master’s program with Kansas State and started to realize that if I was going to be a successful advisor I was going to need a major attitude adjustment. How on earth could I help someone else persist, set goals, and stay positive when I didn’t really believe in myself? Once I initially had the hunch that turning my attitude around would help me professionally, I left the thought to marinate in my brain.

In May 2013, I checked out a library book entitled Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E. P. Seligman. The book’s description boasts the following:

Known as the father of the new science of positive psychology, Martin E.P. Seligman draws on more than twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism enhances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it. Offering many simple techniques, Dr. Seligman explains how to break an “I—give-up” habit, develop a more constructive explanatory style for interpreting your behavior, and experience the benefits of a more positive interior dialogue. These skills can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential, and make you happier.. With generous additional advice on how to encourage optimistic behavior at school, at work and in children, Learned Optimism is both profound and practical–and valuable for every phase of life.

I was sold after reading the book jacket. Something everyone may not know about me: I spent the first year of college with crippling anxiety and depression. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s what it was. It was avoiding social interactions, avoiding raising my hand in class, avoiding drawing any attention to myself, sleeping a lot, going home almost every weekend, and not really enjoying myself, or anything for that matter. I finally started seeing a therapist on campus the next year and learned to manage my anxiety, which helped with the depression. Mastering my anxiety taught me how to be introspective, and to be open minded about myself and my problems. So reading Learned Optimism was like therapy 2.0 minus the therapist. The book contained helpful inventories that helped me better understand my explanatory style, which is fancy psych language for pessimistic or optimistic. Seligman breaks down explanatory style into multiple parts, rather than just “one or the other” and it was fascinating, because it was all so spot on for me.

After I finished reading the book in May 2013 I was determined to work on thinking less pessimistic-ly. It’s challenging to change 20+ years of thinking one way, but it is possible. I’ve learned to counter my pessimistic thoughts with more realistic thoughts, and I’ve learned to stop being so hard on myself for things I felt weren’t going well. As cliche as it sounds, becoming optimistic has changed my life.

Preparing For A Job Interview: Looking The Part

Preparing For A Job Interview Looking The Part

Job hunting in is nerve racking. Searching for openings, writing cover letters, updating your resume, waiting with bated breath for the phone to ring… By preparing adequately ahead of time, your appearance should be the least of your worries. After all, you have to strategize how to answer the tough questions they’re bound to ask you in your interview. And of course you have to research the company! Having gone through pages and pages of advice on how to dress for a job interview, here’s what I think are the most important things to keep in mind from head to toe. The emerging theme? K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

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6 Reasons You Should Hire Me

  1. I’m always working to improve my multicultural competence. This is something I’m very proud of. Multicultural advising is more than just advising a student of a different background from myself. Multicultural advising means helping students from all backgrounds define their goals both educationally and academically by giving priority and taking into consideration the student’s values, personality, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, age, and/or socioeconomic status, and acknowledging how the institutional climate in regard to culture, programs offered, tolerance, privilege and oppression may affect these students.
  2. I’m excited. I’m truly passionate about academic advising and higher education. Back in 2011, I was still an undergrad at Temple University, studying advertising. I was becoming more and more unimpressed with the manipulative ways of advertising all in the name of selling a product, and the sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to enjoy a career in advertising wouldn’t go away. After returning from a wonderful semester abroad in London in April of 2011, I learned about an opportunity to become a peer advisor for the study away department. I was immediately excited and I couldn’t apply fast enough. As I started to think about how interested I was in peer advising, it occurred to me that I could help others for a living through academic advising. I’d always wanted to help others. I’m a natural ‘helper’, and I always have been. If you need anything, I’m the one carrying a few Band-Aids and a nail file around in my purse. Just in case.
  3. I have a pretty diverse skill set. I’m pretty hip with the social media lingo, and I know how to utilize TwitterFacebookPinterestInstagramLinkedIn, and  WordPress.com. Social media comes naturally to me, whether it’s being a Millennial or just having a knack for it. I can type around 90 words per minute, and I know how to use a Mac and a PC. I’m knowledgeable when it comes to Microsoft Office Suite, too. I took Prove It assessments and scored  83% on the Microsoft Word portion and 93% on the Excel portion. I’m a quick learner which also helps.
  4. I’m organized. I’m the most organized person I know. I don’t lose things. Ever. I still use a tangible planner (with pencil only!) in addition to the calendar on my phone (can’t seem to get the paper planner to send me reminder texts and/or e-mails). I make to-do lists and know how to prioritize tasks and manage my time so everything gets done in a timely manner. I’m a habitual list maker and I find that it eases my mind to get everything down on paper so I can focus on what I’m doing here and now. I also like to get to appointments (and airports and train stations) early.
  5. I’m a good writer. And I hope this website speaks to that. I won a D.A.R.E. essay contest in 5th grade. Not that that means much today, but hey, it’s, uh, something. But seriously. I know how to write a concise e-mail, and I understand how important it is to write an e-mail tactfully as there is absolutely no context in regard to tone or facial expressions. So the occasional :) or >:( goes a long way when used appropriately. Just kidding about the mad face, although I do find it quite amusing :P
  6. I have a decent amount of customer service experience under my belt. You know, answering phones cheerfully and making the occasional phone call, helping others, remaining calm and polite, picking up clothing customers have left on the floor, folding t-shirts, cleaning up vomit… I’ve seen a lot, and I understand customer service. From the consumer point of view and the corporate point of view. Even if my day is going awfully, I know it’s important to put on a smile and  check my emotional baggage before I board the plane that is any sort of interaction with anyone.

Just in case, here’s a link to my resume and my e-mail address :)