A woman to aspire to

a woman to aspire to

Like most girls growing up, I always imagined the kind of woman I’d eventually become.

I was an insecure kid with a lot of quirks and beauty I hadn’t yet dared to see in myself. I caught glimpses of it sometimes, but would end up too distracted by my imperfections and everything I hadn’t “figured out” yet. In my mind, the twenty-something version of me would be a woman to aspire to—she’d have it all figured out, and she’d be beautiful.

I’m going to go ahead and say something that might sound conceited: I am beautiful. How controversial of me to say so. How dare I love myself? But I do. Not always. Right now, for example, I look downright teenage in my snowflake pajamas without make-up on, and I constantly obsess over my perpetually dry skin that sometimes flakes or scars. But damnit, I am beautiful, inside and out. (Don’t dare to think otherwise of yourself, either. Somewhere in a parallel universe, my younger self is hearing this, and it’s working wonders.)

Anyway, so back to this picture my sweet, deluded child self had conjured up of the present me. If today I’m saying I’m beautiful (we’ll see how I feel tomorrow), then at least what I had in mind then is half-true. The other half? Not so much. I think I’ve made all the right moves so far (with several mistakes behind and certainly ahead of me), but that doesn’t mean I’ve got adolescent-turned-adult skin problems, let alone life, figured out.

Most twenty-somethings—myself included—obsess over where they’ll be living, or what career path they’ll end up on, or if they’ll get married, and WHO they’ll marry, and oh-my-God-do-I-even-LIKE-kids-let-alone-ever-want-to-have-any? And that’s about as far into the future as most of us bloggers (especially those on Thought Catalog) who deign to narrate such thoughts ever really go with it. For some reason, it seems as though we’re still slightly illuded that our future selves will FINALLY have it all figured out.

Rarely do we take the time to consider the kind of people we’ll be at 50. Or 60. Or 97. Why is that? Do we all just assume we’ll be wise, or do we think “old” (which is a relative term, anyway) people don’t have similar worries, or don’t matter quite as much because they’ve already contributed work and offspring to society? Of course they matter—those are our parents and grandparents we’re talking about. Is it just that old age seems too far into the distant future to even comprehend?

This would make sense, considering how different the world we live in now is compared with the world of our young grandparents. If society and technology and the population can take off so astronomically just in the past few decades, imagine how different it could be when our friends are dying.

So here’s a challenge to my fellow young (again, relative term!) people: envision yourself in the future. Not the ten-years-from-now future. The seemingly distant future. The future that anyone over 50 will likely tell you isn’t as distant as it may seem. Now that we’re all slightly wiser than our preadolescent selves, let’s try to come up with something a little more specific and a lot more realistic than “generally beautiful and all-knowing.”

Gray-haired Cassie? She still wears her hair long. She is confident, and long ago stopped worrying about what people think of her. She is kind, funny, occasionally frazzled, yes, but never more than five minutes late. Physically, spiritually, and otherwise, she remains in touch with her former young self. In fact, she works out. Daily. Still has muscles and a nice figure, even if it’s changed slightly over time. A few laugh lines are permanently etched into her face from a lifetime of belly laughs, but her skin makes her appear younger than she is because she became diligent about sunscreen in her twenties.

Gray-haired Cassie is also incredibly smart. With an impressive vocabulary (and a persisting tendency to say “y’all” a lot), she has accomplished her dream of publishing a novel a few times over. She’s still super-close with her younger sisters, and doesn’t envy them too much for being generally cuter and more youthful. She is able to look back at her life and pinpoint exactly where she made mistakes and is grateful that they led her to where she is now. She’s learned to live with only the most beautiful things she owns, even if she only has a few of them. She is a woman of self-love and satisfaction. And despite many doubts, missteps, and setbacks, her optimism—however peppered with sarcasm—has prevailed. Also? She still doesn’t have it all figured out. And accepts that.

Knowing that this is what I want and envision for myself makes clear a few things, and it raises some questions: One, what is it I should start doing now to become that woman? If I want to get to that point of self-actualization sooner, I better start acting like the woman I describe.

Two, what is it I should stop doing now to become that woman? No self-loving goddess would tell herself, No, don’t bother applying to that amazing school. The chances of you getting in are slim, and that’s a hefty application fee.

And three, what do I already share with the woman I describe? I’m smart, kind of funny sometimes, I take care of my body, and I’ve laughed a lot. 

And that? That counts for something.

 

Five things you (and I) need to stop doing. Now.

As an imperfect yet ever-evolving being, I try to maintain self-insight and look for ways in which I could improve. (After all, I’m thoughtful and stuff.)

Don’t let me mislead you–most of the time, those things are usually along the line of less shampoo, more SPF. But occasionally, I like to go a little deeper than that. And I think these five tendencies are something I need to work on eradicating. Maybe you do, too.

Saying “sorry” when you really mean “excuse me.” How is (sometimes awkwardly) moving through and existing in shared space deserving of an apology?! Apologizing for one of those weird I thought you were going this way, no I’ll go that way moments is a strange and submissive habit that says, “I am not worthy of accidentally standing in your way for two whole seconds. Forgive me.” No. Stop it.

Forcing or avoiding small talk. Small talk is, admittedly, not my thing. Most of the time. Some days, I’m perfectly willing to engage in this kind of communication, and other times, I’m just not in the mood. Both of these things are okay. There are mornings at work where I’ll happily chat with a co-worker about our weekends, and the very next day, I might not have more than a friendly “hello” for the same person. That’s fine—I don’t think you need to force conversation every time you’re faced with someone. (I’ve done that, too, and wanted to smack myself when I mumbled something incoherent for the sake of making noise at someone.) There are those who will ALWAYS want to chat, in which case it’s perfectly acceptable to keep your responses light and short. Not everyone is good at small talk, and not everyone likes it. But in professional situations especially, it’s important to maintain a friendly air about you, even if you have nothing to contribute besides a smile.

Giving a wishy-washy RSVP. As an introvert who doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I am very guilty of this. Someone you don’t know very well invites you to a party where you won’t know anyone, a friend you haven’t seen in a while calls you up last-minute for a get-together, or a buddy wants to go to a bar that you HATE. These are all circumstances where it’s okay to very clearly say, “No, thanks!” or, “Sorry, I can’t make it.” Sounds incredibly simple, yet many people make it so much more difficult than that. Not everyone is good at the whole Facebook invite thing—we shouldn’t assume everyone’s lives revolve around it—but otherwise, responding with, “Mayyybeee… I’ll let you know!” when you are already dead-set on not attending is just plain flaky. Of course, if you say no all the time, people will stop inviting you. I do think it’s good to go out of your comfort zone every now and then, or offer an alternative plan. But saying “no” on occasion so you can stay home and drink boxed wine? Totally okay.

Deflecting, or rejecting, compliments. I’ve seen this piece of advice floating around inspirational la-dee-da blogs about self-love and embracing your inner hoo-ha a fair amount, but it’s worth repeating. Because people don’t just hand out compliments out of obligation. They have to go out of their way to pronounce extra syllables and exert a fair amount of air to tell you that you look great/did a good job/are super thoughtful. When you respond with self-deprecation or throw back a half-hearted “No, you!”, it’s like saying, “You’re wrong, and I actually really suck.” Uncomfortable for all parties involved.

Living in your own bubble, on repeat. So easy to do. So easy to fix. Take a different route to work. Do something OTHER than partying every weekend. Actually make eye contact (and say hello?!) to the people you pass in the hallway. This last one, I swear, is a dying form of civility. People my age looks at me like I’m nuts if I smile and say hello… even if we’re the only two people in a room. Anyone over 60? They’re the first to say, “Morning!” We need to bring that back.

What would you add to this list? Are you guilty of any of these offenses?

Of the employed sort

The last time I posted, I was writing from the beaches of North Carolina, where I spent a week in total relaxation mode, playing frisbee with my sisters on the beach and drinking wine with my mom at night. The week ended up being pretty productive, too– in addition to running every single day of the week (something I’ve never done), I was also offered a job. Like, a job job. Not bad considering all I had planned on accomplishing that week was getting a little bit of sun.

While my tan is already fading fast, the reality of having a “real” job is starting to sink in. Since I graduated, time has seemed to pass pretty slowly. In between ambitious rounds of sending out countless resumes, my enthusiasm for job hunting would often deflate and I’d retreat into laziness and daydreaming. But when you’re living at home with tons of free time and a sense of pressure to DO something with your life, those moments are often filled with restlessness and anxiety. It really started to seem bleak on the job front, and I kept trying to adjust my immediate goals accordingly.

Really, though, it’s only been 3 1/2 months since I walked across the stage at graduation. When I remember that, I think, Wow. That actually didn’t take very long. And I’m proud. And damnit, I think I should be!

The job itself is truly ideal. There were plenty of jobs I applied to that secretly had me thinking to myself that if I didn’t get them, I’d be okay with it because they weren’t for me. If I had been offered a job I wasn’t excited about, I would’ve felt pretty torn about taking it. Why settle for something that’s merely “meh”? But then, what college grad these days can afford to turn down a job? Luckily, I didn’t have that problem with this one. I knew almost immediately during my first interview that this advertising and publishing agency would be a great fit for me. Aside from the convenience (it’s 10 minutes from my house) and the salary (it’s salaried!), my gut also told me that this was the place to be. The people I spoke with were friendly and easy to talk to, and from what I could tell, the environment was casual, yet growing– not too overwhelming, but, thank God, not underwhelming, either. The fact that it’s a position in a field directly related to my major with room to grow? No-brainer.

There’s always going to be compromise, though. That European trip I’ve been wanting to take for months is now indefinitely on the backburner. Sure I’m bummed I didn’t just jump on it sooner and do it the second I graduated, but the fact is I didn’t, and I made job hunting a priority instead. At least now I’ll be able to save money easier, and by the time I’m allowed to use my vacation days, I can at least do a week or so in Spain. Maybe France the year after?

I’m pretty nervous about starting this upcoming Monday, but I’m mostly excited. It’s going to mean big changes both personally and career-wise. But I’m thinking of it like I would school. College is a four-year commitment (or 3 1/2 years, in my case… 5 years in others’), and while I’m not sure how long I’ll be with this company, I know it will at least be a couple. And I think that’s pretty cool. I’m excited to finally get some real world experience and prove myself worthy. I’m glad I had that week of vacation just a little while ago before I started this up, considering I don’t know when the next one will be. Something else I’m glad about? Getting this job before the upcoming graduates did. I didn’t finish school quickly for nothin’.

Let’s say I’m unemployed because I’m over-qualified

Happy birthday, Jon Bon Jovi!

Okay, that’s enough of that.

You know what else I’ve had enough of? Unemployment. It’s been fun and all, hanging out in my sweatpants for indefinite amounts of time. But now it’s March, and suddenly I’m all like, “Crap.” 2011 is established in its existence, and the only thing I’ve established is a newfound sense of worthlessness. And though I know I’ll soon enough miss these lazy days, I need more purpose in life. Or at least structure, because I’m the type that if given too much free time, I don’t make the best use of it. Sad, but true.

I’ve already sent countless emails and resumes to potential employers over the past several weeks. I’ve sent out ten this week alone. At first, I was picky about what listings I responded to, and then I started browsing other Craig’s List categories. (No, not the adult section, ha-ha badumching.) Now, I’m applying for everything from waitressing jobs (kill me, I thought I’d never go back) to salaried positions. What do I get in response from these people? Anything from “hai you be personal assistant” to nothing. Mostly nothing. WHY, people, do you post ads only for me to respond, only for you NOT to respond? What logic is there in that? I know I’m qualified. I know I’m superbly normal. And I’m on TOP of those ads. I check job sites daily –hourly?– so I know I’m often one of the first to respond. Maybe my eagerness scares you off. Maybe you should die.

It’d be easier to take if I did make better use of my spare time. That is, when I’m not on the hunt. Besides hoping to save money, I have other, more creative goals that have no better time to be accomplished than now. Every day I think, Now would be a good time to start that novel or I should really clean out my desk and instead, I distract myself with meaningless, time-sucking activities. This COULD be a recipe for fatness or alcoholism, but luckily I do not succumb to such things. Yet.

I’m more willing now than I was before to suck it up and take a job that might not be the most desirable or career-oriented if that’s what it takes to start putting a reasonable amount of cash in the bank. And I know that any job always has the potential to lead to something even better. My real fear is that my tentative and yet-to-be planned European trip will keep getting pushed back more and more until it doesn’t even happen this year. I know Europe will always be there, but sometimes people tell themselves that at 21, and before they know it, it’s 20 years later and they’re fat alcoholics who still tell themselves Europe will always be there. I just refuse to be one of those people. But, you know, in order for me to get overseas, maybe I should take the time out of my busy coughnotreally schedule and get a PASSPORT. IT’S NOT LIKE I HAVE A JOB OR ANYTHING.

But I can’t be too hard on myself. I’m looking, trying, going for it. And at least I’m living rent-free, which is a beautiful thing. But there needs to be something else to fill my time with other than Facebook and sit-ups. So I’ll work on that. Because I cannot accept being one of those people that inspired the phrase “youth is wasted on the young.”


***On an unrelated note, I finally installed Google Friend Connect on my blog, making it easier to follow me. By easier, I mean you have to click one less button. Lazy bums. But since Google Friend Connect is the popular way to go, I’ve done this for you. And to hopefully get more followers. If you read my blog, please click the follow button so it doesn’t look like I’m uncool!

WTH?!? Wednesdays – When viruses attack

Happy WTH Wednesday, y’all. It’s been a long week since the karaoke vlogring. The night I decided to share my superior singing and “dancing” skills with the world, a virus decided to find my piece of crap computer. Hilarity ensured. I mean insanity.

First, it started with the pop-up ads. WTH. I knew something was wrong, ’cause I haven’t seen pop-up ads since the early 2000s. Then some invisible man with elevator music started telling me about Angelina Jolie’s recent shenanigans with Zion or Shiloh or Orange or whatever her kid’s name is. I was starting to get worried, but it wasn’t till this happened that I knew I was in deep doo-doo:

That’s right. My non-existant wife and children would find out about every mouse click I made unless I did vague things like submit to spyware’s credit card information requirements. Otherwise, every word I typed would be recorded. Well, crap. I guess I can forget about all potential job offers, because this virus will now determine the outcome of my life. At least, that’s how it made things seem.

My feelings of hysteria only intensified when I made a phone call to the Geek Squad, who wanted to charge me at least $350 to recover my hard drive and protect my computer. WTH. Eff. That. Sheeit. It’s the HOLIDAY SEASON for God’s/Jesus’/Buddha’s/Beiber’s sake. Have some sympathy, guys. I gots presents to buy. The worst part was that the three-year warranty I bought at Best Buy that would protect the computer from EVERYTHING–including frat party beer spills, my god– expired last month. As in, the month before this one right hurr. I’ve done a lot for good karma recently, but apparently, it still hates me. So, I didn’t know what to do. I still had two final papers due before I could graduate from the school thing forever. At least until I feel I have no other choice but to enroll in graduate school– a whole other feat in and of itself. But finally, I found a computer genius who could fix my computer for 200% less than the other guys.

Long story short, everything’s cool, yo. My computer’s good for now– at least until I decide that no PC is worth it and I’d rather spend $2,000 on a Mac than increments of a couple hundred dollars every year to recover plain ole PC documents. I know it’ll be worth it in the end to own a Mac, but shoot– there’s too much to save up for: new computers, trips to Europe, adult diapers. I’m already looking forward to the time when I’ll be able to revel in my adult diaperhood. Yum?

So even though it’s now technically Thursday (shut UP!), I say WTH to another week’s worth of technological-related WTH?!? Wednesdays. But I also say one hell of a congrats to me– I am officially a college graduate, having accomplished such a feat in 3 1/2 years. I am gloating, right here right now. Now I plan on drinking generous amounts of things and casually browsing Craigslist for freelance opportunites. This is adulthood.

WTH?!?