Life Lessons #16 – 20

It’s now March 23 and I’ve only got a few short days to provide you with 10 more valuable life lessons. Impossible? Not quite. Challenging? It’s starting to feel that way. Worth it? Absolutely.

(To be honest, I just spent the last hour crafting a well-thought out blog post, but in my attempt to save the post as I continued writing, I ended up deleting it ūüė¶ As such, the lessons I’ll provide here will be short, but just as important and valuable as all the others.)

Life Lesson #16: Ask yourself is it worth it?

After crying to a friend about how so-and-so hardly noticed me and woe was me, my friend posed a simple question: Was it worth it? Was it worth it to like someone who didn’t like me and to be so upset about it? Probably not. What was the point in willingly putting myself in a situation that made me so unhappy? I learned that lesson early on in high school and it’s one that’s stuck with me for the past 8-9 years. And, don’t think it applies to things as superficial as having a silly crush at 16. It applies to anything and it applies to everything. If you find yourself in a situation that makes you unhappy, or that adds unnecessary stress to your life, or pushes you to your limits, as yourself if it’s worth it. Sometimes, the answer will be a clear and definite no. Nope – it’s definitely not worth it to be in this situation because I know this isn’t good for me. On the other hand, just because the situation is stressful or challenging doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. It just means you’re dealing with a difficult situation that you need to accomplish. You see, the question does more than just make you think about what you should or shouldn’t do. It helps to focus and think more clearly about whether or not it’s worth it to stay in this situation or if it’s better if we move on for now.

Life Lesson #17: Go back to the basics. 

What’s the magic word? I know you all know it.

As kids, we’re all taught to mind our manners: say “Please” when asking for something; thank someone when receiving something; ask people how they are; how the door for others; be kind to everyone;¬†say “Excuse me” when you bump into someone or commit other social faux paus.

It’s simple: we were taught these lessons for a reason. They teach us how to respect others and how to show gratitude and compassion for our fellow human beings. We learn these manners at a young age, and yet somehow they are often forgotten as we grow up. Today, whenever someone thanks me for doing something for them, I’m often pleasantly surprised, but I shouldn’t be, should I? I almost think that these are things we should come to expect. These things aren’t hard and when we forget to them, we often make other people feel like we don’t care about them and like they’re taken for granted. So, go back to the basics – I know that it’s simple and it might not seem that important, but it can really make a difference to someone.

Life Lesson #18: If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your BS. – W.C. Fields

I’ll keep this one short. I often think about this in the context of giving a speech: If you can’t remember what you wrote for your speech, but know the general ideas, just go for it. You might not be able to get your ideas across as intended, but you may have a general idea. And if you don’t, perhaps you’ll talk in such a circular way that you’ll confuse them ūüėČ

Life Lesson #19: Make the time for the people and things that are most important to you.

Whenever I make a short trip home, I always try to make time to spend with my mom, dad, and brother and I make sure that I spend time with all of our pets. If possible, I always try to see some of my closest friends and I always try to make time to go to mass. It’s often very difficult to accomplish these things because my trips home often only last 2-3 days and they are also usually filled with a number of appointments (i.e., doctors, car, etc.). It’s hard to fit everything, but I think it’s important that we try to make the time for the people and things that are important to us. ¬†I think it helps people realize how much we care about them and it helps us to realize that we would want them to do the same thing if they were in our situation.

I also do have to mention that my group of friends from high school does an excellent job with this. For a few years after high school, we’d often meet up weekly or every couple weeks for some sort of shenanigans. I think it’s gotten a little more challenging as people have started moving out of the area, but we still have big events with everyone when we know most people will be around. Even though we’re all incredibly busy, we all still make the time for each other and these events are things that I look forward to year-round.

Life Lesson #20: Take the time to figure out what you want.

This lesson can apply to anything in life. Kind of seems like an understatement, doesn’t it? Take the time to figure out what you want – don’t let others, or even yourself, force you into make a decision before you’re ready. I often think about this lesson in the context of college. For many of us, for multiple reasons, we probably felt like we had to choose a major early on in college, perhaps before we were ready. Maybe we felt rushed. Maybe we felt pressure from our family or friends to make a certain decision in a timely manner. Whatever the reason may be, we shouldn’t make a decision before we’re ready. Take time to figure things out. Ask yourself what you want out of time. Don’t make a hasty decision only to realize too late that you’ve made the wrong choice. Give yourself the right figure out what you want and then make a decision.

Surrounding yourself with the right kind of people: Life Lessons 11-15

Throughout our lives, most of us have the opportunity to meet and potentially become friends with thousands of people. Unless we’ve chosen a job that isolates us from others or choose to live a solitary life for whatever reasons, we are generally surrounded by people. All kinds of people. Happy people, sad people. People who make us angry. People who are so complicated that we can never understand them. All. Kinds. Of. People.

At the ripe old age of 24…not to be confused with 25 just yet ;)…I’ve realized that at some point in time, we get to make a choice. We have the ability to choose the people who surround us. Granted, there are circumstances when you won’t be able to escape that awful sneer from someone you can’t avoid. Nevertheless, at least in our personal lives (and even if our work life, at times), we get to choose. As I’ve experienced a multitude of events in my life, I’ve come to realize that there are 5 types of people I want surrounding me:

1. Those who will go to bat for you: It’s always good to have someone in your corner; someone who will be by your side (no matter what),¬†who will stick up for you, and who will fight for you. I’m lucky. I have a lot of these people in my life. I’d definitely say that my family falls into this category. No matter the issue, I always know that if I’m ever in a bind that I can count on them to help me through it. Even if I’m wrong. I’m also lucky enough to have mentors in my life who will fight for me and who will pull their neck on the line for me. We need these people in our lives. We need to know that we have someone in our corner who is always willing to help us out regardless of the time, place, or situation. (Life Lesson #11).

2. Those who challenge you:

When I was thinking about this, I was thinking about how many different ways you can interpret the word “challenge.” What does it mean to be challenged? In what ways do we want others to challenge us? I recently started spinning again and my spin instructor is absolutely incredible. He’s constantly challenging me – to ride faster, to work on my endurance, to work harder. Sure it’s tough, but would I really want to be in a class with an instructor who was very lax in their teaching and who was OK with me only giving a half-hearted effort? It’s unlikely. What would I be gaining? I know that when I go to class, I’m always going to be challenged to do more and I think that makes me a stronger person (both physically and mentally). I think it’s important to be surrounded by people who challenge us because it pushes us rise to a whole new level.

We can also be challenged in other ways. When I presented a paper to a research committee, one of my committee members remarked that she was going to ask me harder questions at my next presentation. She wasn’t challenging the way I wrote or what I had to say, but she was really challenging me to rise to a whole new level. By her raising the bar, she was helping me set a new standard for myself that I didn’t know was possible.

At times, I also think we should surround ourselves with people who challenge the way we think about things. It’s easy to fall into patterns of thinking and believe that our ideas are correct . However, we need to have people in our lives who can bring up different sides to arguments that we didn’t see before and who can challenge us to think in a new way. Although we may not always agree, I think that surrounding ourselves with people who challenge our thinking can lead to growth…and can help us rise to a whole new level (are you sensing a trend?).¬†¬†(Life Lesson #12)

3. Those who make you want to be a better person:¬†During my senior year of high school, one of my role models in speech and debate was inducted into the OHSSL Hall of Fame. During his acceptance speech, he talked about how being involved in speech and debate and being surrounded by that world made him want to be a better person. It’s been over 5 years since I’ve graduated from high school, but those words have stuck with me. I want to be surrounded by the kind of people who make me want to be a better person – who make me want to be kinder, to try harder, to have more passion, to help others, and so on. I have a friend who is easily one of the nicest, most kindhearted people that I’ve ever met. Seeing the way this person interacts with others, provides support to friends, and dedicates everything (s)he has to the task at hand, I constantly finding myself wanting to be a better person. Hands down, I think that we need to have people like this in our life because they’re constantly helping us to rise to a whole new level.¬†¬†(Life Lesson #13)

4. Those who add positivity to your life and bring you joy:

It’s easy to get discouraged. Something may happen in the morning that turns your day around and puts you in a bad mood. At the end of day, you need to have people in your life who bring you joy. You need friends who can make you happy after a bad day and who can help you see the positive after a bad day. We deserve goodness in our life. We deserve to be surrounded by people who can make us happy. We don’t need to surround ourselves with people who bring us down or who bring out a side in us that is better off left hidden. I know it’s hard, but if you find yourself surrounded by people who are bringing out your ugly side (and let’s face it, we all have one), let them go. You don’t need that sort of negativity in your life. Don’t surround yourself with people who make you feel bad about yourself or who force you to become someone you’re not. You don’t deserve that. You deserve happiness and you deserve to be surrounded by people who make you feel good.¬†¬†(Life Lesson #14)

5. Those who make you laugh: 

 

Laughter is good for us. Some would say it’s the best medicine. So, surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard that you cry or until milk comes out of your nose. Surround yourself with people who you can’t look it in certain situations because you know if you do, you’ll burst into laughter. Laughter is good for the soul and it’s such an easy way to turn around a bad day.¬†(Life Lesson #15)

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I’m sure that you can think of other types of people that you need in your life, but this is what I’ve got. These are the type of people who feed my soul and who make life worth living. These people inspire me and I’m thankful to have them in my life. Without a doubt, these people have impacted the way I lead my life whether I know it or not.

Because here’s the thing – the people who surround us will inevitability impact us, whether we know it or not, whether these changes occur intentionally or at a subconscious level. People can challenge us to rise to a higher level, or they can force us to abandon everything that we know and stoop to low levels. So, who do you choose? Who do want surrounding you and influencing your life?

Making 2013 Different: Letting Go of Fear

Happy 2013, world! Yes, I know I’m a little behind the times, but at least it’s still January ūüôā

Goodness, it’s been such a long time from writing, so let’s just jump right in! Although I apologize for my long absence, I can make no promises that I will update extremely frequently. Let’s face it, I’ve said it before and look how far we’ve come…or haven’t. How often do we make “promises” to ourselves or to others that we¬†will¬†definitely do something, but then don’t? We see someone from our past and put on a show that we’ll “call soon,” ¬†or that “we’ll make plans” but then forget all about our encounter by the end of the day. Or we say we’re going to try something new, try to change, try to do something¬†different,¬† but then something distracts us or we get discouraged and we just stop. I think we all have a tendency to do these sorts of things, don’t you?

So then the question becomes, why?

If you ask me (or Meredith Grey), I’d say a lot of it has to do with fear.

I know this is going to come as a surprise to many of you (sarcasm!), but I’m a shy person (mostly). Although I can be extremely outgoing, it takes me awhile to get to that point. Granted, I¬†love¬†people. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in clinical psychology. But, I’m shy (or inhibited if you want to get clinically technical ūüėČ Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m painstakingly shy. It would be way too hard to do some of the things I have to do if that were the case. But, nonetheless, this is what it is. In my past, I think there may have been times when I let my shyness get the best of me. I would pass up opportunities (concerning guys/opportunities at school/etc.) because I was afraid of…something. Now, I don’t think this is completely related to my being shy. Lots of people have fears of “something” who are extremely outgoing and far from being shy. But, what is this elusive “something” that I feared (and that I’m guessing many of you fear)? Fear of looking foolish or realizing that your expectations were much different than what actually was? Fear of the possibilities, being embarrassed, or being rejected?

I don’t know that there’s a hard and fast answer to this question…unfortunately. Maybe it differs from person to person, or from situation to situation. Maybe it’s something that we won’t ever be able to fully identify.

So, here’s the thing. At the beginning of this year, my friends from high school and I discussed what our new years resolutions were. Now, that’s a painstaking process. Because it’s easy to forget to follow New Years Resolutions, there were years when I figured, why bother? Why bother saying “This year¬†will¬†be different. This year, I¬†will¬†do x, y, and z,” when it was more often the case that my resolutions often didn’t last past January?

Well, this year I became inspired. This year, I decided things¬†will¬†be different. As I got the text from my friends about my resolutions, I ¬†had to think about it for awhile. In May, I graduate with my master’s degree. In August, I hope to be starting a PhD program. A lot of things will be changing. I’ll be 24 this year and if I don’t get into a PhD program, I’ll be starting my real grown-up life (scary!) after graduation. I know 23 and 24 are young. People tell me that¬†all¬†the time. But, I feel like I’m at a point where I need to start thinking about my future and my career and being with someone I want to spend the rest of my life with and starting a family and all the craziness that goes along with that.

So you’re thinking, okay Jeannette get to the point. What does this have to do with your resolutions? Well, my faithful readers, I’ll tell you. It has everything to do with them. ¬†After some thought, I responded to my friends the following: “Let go of my inhibition and don’t let it get in the way of accomplishing greatness!” Okay…so the last bit about greatness may have been a little bit dramatic, but you should get the point.

So often, we let this something, this fear, get in the way.

It doesn’t matter what it gets in the way of; it’s enough that our fears prevent us from taking action.

From speaking up about your ideas and values.

From telling someone how we feel about them and asking them out for coffee.

The point is, our fears (this “something”) can prevent us from, well…accomplishing greatness. Think about it for one second; if you let your fears rule your life, maybe you could be missing out on potentially finding your ideal job (because you’re too afraid to apply for the job), or from starting a relationship with someone who could become your potential spouse (because you’re too afraid of the rejection you may face by asking them out).

I guess the whole point of this is to not let your fears (whatever they may be) control your life. Don’t let them prevent you from taking action (whatever that may mean).

I can’t say for certain how the rest of the year will go, but for now, I’ve already started to make this year¬†different.¬†

Day in the Life: Student Affairs Professional Seeking a Job… Any Job.

Going on three months ago, I graduated (for the second time) as a proud alum of Youngstown State with a Masters of Science in Education, specializing in Student Affairs. I had chosen this field largely because of my extracurricular involvement as an undergrad and my interest in organizational politics. After five semesters of 14 hr days, often keeping me on campus till 11pm, hundreds of pages of papers, detailed projects, writing about my feelings, and a three and a half hour comprehensive written exam, I was qualified to cross the stage again, and this time, with a really fancy hood.

To be completely honest, the last three months of my life haven’t been particularly great. I won’t go into detail, but I’m still searching for my first post-college, adult job that requires one of my degrees. Yeah, it’s been frustrating, and I have been utilizing all the resources available to me. At times, its hard not to be discouraged, especially when its feels like the universe is rubbing it in my face that I don’t have¬†the job yet. However, the family members, friends, and mentors I have reached out to have been nothing but supportive as my search continues. (Thanks, everybody!) A friend and former instructor put it to me this way: I may be perfect for a job, but the job just might not be perfect for me. I know I have a lot to offer any employer, and I would love to work at a college or university, helping students have the same kind of positive experience I was lucky enough to enjoy.

So, you may be wondering… what have I been doing to keep busy? Well, blogging here, to start. I won’t lie — it has been¬†really¬†nice to relax and do the things that I want to do on my own time. I wouldn’t trade my education for anything, but it didn’t leave a whole lot of time for activities. I’ve been catching up on TV via Netflix and Hulu Plus, getting out and walking, and reading the things that I want to read. The great thing about getting a degree, though, is that no matter what, no one can take that away. Regardless of what I’m doing, I’m still a Master of something, which is pretty neat to be able to say. I could tell you about all the things that I’ve been up to now that I’m a Master of Science (which is rather ironic for me, actually… I can’t science anything), but I thought it would be more interesting to show you….

Almost every morning, just like this. Since he’s a small dog, Toby actually makes for comfortable snuggling, unlike all those pictures out there of German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers pushing their person out of bed.

1. There are soooooooo many things on Pinterest… ¬†2. That looks cool. Could I make that? 3. Nah, moving on.

Then I go on Pinterest for a while… a long, long while. There’s hot chocolate in that mug, I’ve never been a coffee drinker. I think I should try to get another degree in Pinning and Board Curation.

Toby has his own YSU leash. He majors in naps, with dual minors in lap-sitting and giving sad puppy face whenever you eat chicken.

If I’m at Brian’s, I’ll take advantage of the pool. Someday, I’ll have some semblance of a tan.

Gotta level up. I never really played video games when I was growing up. I was always too busy with school stuff and I didn’t find them that interesting anyway, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

1. Let’s see here.. what new positions are up? ¬† 2. Hmm… this one sounds pretty interesting… ¬† 3. Yeah, ok, I’ll apply for this one. ¬† 4. Ohmyglob, why are cover letters so exhausting?

This is pretty much how it is.

I’m not giving up just yet. I’m applying outside the world of academia to other jobs that suit me, and I’m considering selling some of my crafts online. (Let me know if you’re interested!) If things look up for me, I’ll let you know where I’ll be taking my talents through a LeBron James-style TV special. Check your local listings.

25 Before 25

I keep seeing these # Before # lists pop up around the Internet.¬† I have mixed feelings about them.¬† On the one hand, no one really cares that you or I want to figure out how to French braid your or my hair before your dog’s half birthday next month.¬† On the other hand, sometimes lists like these provide an interesting window into a person’s priorities and interests.¬† Their staccato nature also fits well into our technologically overstimulated short attention spans.

My 25th birthday is this December.  That leaves me only a few months to do these things.  Given that deadline, I have not included any big ticket items that might go on a bucket list.  I am neither traveling, nor getting married, nor starting my own business, nor anything monumental whatsoever.  I am simply operating from a carpe diem point of view.  I want to make the 100+ days left of my 24th year count instead of squandering that time away on Facebook.

1. Don’t wear sweat pants or gym shorts in public.

2. Go to an outdoor movie.

3. Ride the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Towpath train.

4. Try a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks.

5. Go on a real, decent length hike.

6. Trace my family lineage back to Europe.

7. Do the Tour de Donut.

8. Finish Invitation to a Beheading by Nabokov.

9. Finish El general en su laberinto by García Márquez.

10. Make soybean baklava.

11. Be extra punctual.

12. Make homemade jam.

13. Cut back on my use of Facebook.

14. Make homemade ice cream.

15. Bake Irish Car Bomb cupcakes.

16. Write (and finish!) a short story.

17. Obtain gainful, respectable employment.

18. Bake mocha cupcakes.

19. Do a fitness event.

20. Pick my own produce.

21. Watch The Motorcycle Diaries.

22. Read a book every month.

23. Carve a pumpkin.

24. (Possibly) Get my TEFL/TESOL certificate.

25. Recreate simit as I ate it in Turkey.

What are your short term goals?