An Open Letter to Myself

illustration of a love note sealed with a pink heart.

Dear Future Me:

If right now you’re tired. And feeling a little lost. It’s OK. The real world is sometimes a scary place and entirely overwhelming — and sometimes its entirely underwhelming. It’s OK. You’ll make it. Being a grown up isn’t always perfect, but what is?

If right now you’re a little lonely. It’s OK. If you’re wondering when you will find your people, remember you already have once. And you will find more. If you see families out and about and wonder when you will get your chance. It’s OK. You will. Stop worrying about it. Continue reading

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Thoughts on Pay Day

YES YES YES YES YESSSS!

I have monies!! Time to pay all of my bills………YAY!

Shoot.

I need a pedicure, desperately.

But student loans. Ugh.

Wait…. where did it all go?

What the heck did I buy this month on my Amex?

Oh…. right… that…… Target. damnit Target.

I worked so hard and it all gone. waaaahhh.

Thank goodness I like mac and cheese? cheap groceries for the win!

Adulting is hard.

Rules to Live By: Part 2

As of today I have been a member of the adult world for exactly six weeks. On one hand, I can’t believe its already been that long. On the other, I’m astonished that’s it. As much as I love Notre Dame and it will always be a part of who I am, I feel very far away from being a college student lately.

If you’ve been following this blog over the last couple months, you may remember that I had the opportunity to would at an amazing YMCA program this summer. During this program we had four rules:

Be Safe, Be Kind, Stay Smart, Have Fun.

Today I was at a leadership development meeting at work, and I got to thinking about these four rules. While I think that they are, and will always be applicable to my life personally, I started thinking about how they could be adapted to apply to professional life. Here’s what I came up with: Continue reading

Beyond Obsessed / by Cara Gordon

As some of you might know, skating was and remains my first true love. A former competitor of mine posted this article on her own blog and it resonated with me so much that I wanted to share it with all of you. Cara, we hardly ever met, but it has been fun to follow your adventure and conquests via the ever-connecting Facebook. Thank you for capturing the power and beauty of being a part of the Synchronized Skating family.

“The skating world is a special family that I know I can always come back to and that will always hold a very special and sacred place in my heart. I’m more than grateful for the experiences I had, the people I’ve met, and everything I’ve learned along the way; I had the time of my life. But just because I’m not competing doesn’t mean it isn’t there and just because I’m not “skating” doesn’t mean I’m not a “skater”. While the experience itself was fleeting, what I took from it will last forever and I can’t wait for what’s next. So, here’s to chapter two.”

http://beyond-obsessedd.tumblr.com/post/129725347329/chapter-two-life-beyond-the-rink

The Hero in Hercules

SO… in case you haven’t noticed, I have a recent rekindled obsession with Hercules. I’ve watched it probably too many times in the last week or so. I’ve come to the conclusion that in addition to the witty puns, catchy songs, and a great story line. The heroine of the move, Meg, might be the true reason that I’m recently so hooked on this movie.

If you’ve ever talked to anyone who identifies as a feminist, you’ve probably rolled your eyes at least once. You’ve thought the long rambling rants were pointless and unfounded. You’ve probably heard someone tell you about the evils of Disney Princesses and Barbies. (If you’ve missed that rant some how, the gist is that they oppress women by teaching young girls that they are subservient to men, their main role in life is to find a Prince Charming or Ken)

I know that many of you could point out more than one way that Hercules is still flawed,. But instead of continuing that well discussed philosophy, I’m going to talk about the ways that (in my opinion) Disney actually got it right… Continue reading

Growing Old is Mandatory, Growing Up Isn’t

There are some hallmarks of childhood that I have officially decided most certainly have a place in adulthood. (Because I totally have that authority)

Children’s movies. Specifically Hercules. If you haven’t watched it recently, go watch it. Its fabulous.

Mac and Cheese. Forget the “grown up” truffle oil, lobster, duck fat mac and cheese. Good old pasta and cheese sauce is some of the best comfort food there is. Its not fancy, you’ve probably been eating it since you were three, and its only gotten better.

Funfetti cake. I dare you to be unhappy while eating funfetti cake.

Coloring. Apparently when you are an adult you can call it meditation and sound sophisticated. (true story, check it out)

Early bed time. You might feel lame going to bed at 8:30pm but trust me, that 10 hours of sleep is even more amazing as an adult.

Being a tourist. Kids are never ashamed to be tacky tourists and marvel in wide-eyed wonder and buy cheap souvenirs. As adults we pretend to be sophisticated, but this is still just as much fun as it used to be. (*see segway tour photos*)

Magic. While I haven’t entirely accepted that the wonderful world of Harry Potter doesn’t exist (even though I never got my letter from Hogwarts), being an adult means being a little bit more subtle about your belief in magic. But here’s the deal. Its still undeniably awesome.

The World from a Segway

Greetings. I did it. I’m one of those people who goes on a Segway tour.

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Yes. I look like a total dork. They make you wear a helmet and a neon vest. And then let you roll around in public. But it was SO much fun. I highly recommend. Once you get over the fact that you look like a total loser, and accept that every single local is judging you, its awesome.

It takes a little bit of getting used to. Honestly, until you get used to zipping around its kind of terrifying. Truly Segways just seem unnatural. There appears to be no logical reason that they should stand up and not be absolute death traps. But once you get the hang of it you kind of feel like a superhero.

Until someone out on their evening run passes you on your Segway. Then you feel like a loser again. But you are having WAY more fun than they are.

This is what adulting looks like.

Who knows maybe I’ll be the first person to ride a Segway on all seven continents.

Middle School, Jury Duty, Cliches and Success

Lately I’ve been thinking about a lot of things that come with being an adult. Paying back loans, investing, health insurance, rent, and that ever elusive “five year plan”. In the midst of all this I’ve been circling around the question of what exactly success looks like to me.

Is success power, or money? Influence? Title? In reality I think most people come to the conclusion that success is not something that can be tangibly measured.

For me, I think that success is defined by happiness. But this concept isn’t any less elusive than the concept of success itself. Happiness doesn’t necessarily mean that you walk through life in a state of euphoria, to look for that is to end up chasing cheap thrills and quick highs. Impulse buys, and bad decisions. Expecting happiness to be a state of EVERYTHING IS AWESOME a la Lego Movie is ridiculous.

So what is happiness? How do you get there?

If you ask me (and you didn’t, but you’re here reading anyways) happiness is built on the freedom of choice.

Happiness has highs, and lows, and stress, and exhaustion. Happiness is the ability to throw your self into something full force. Happiness is knowing when to engage and when to pull back, and feeling like the elements of your life are in your control.

Think back to middle school. Most middle schoolers I know detest school, or at least claim to. Do 12 and 13 year olds really hate learning? Do they really hate being with their peers for 6 hours a day? I would venture to say no… but I think most people DO hate feeling that they are being forced to do something. When you have no control over the events of your day, its easy to resent the thing that takes that control away.

Think forward, what are the things that are most upsetting to adults? Not responsibilities that we have chosen to take on. If you volunteer for a project at work, or to help planning a charity event, or to fund raise for a cause, its almost fun. You take pride in what you are doing, how you have chosen to spend your time and the responsibility that you have taken on.

But conversely, think about how you feel about a demanding boss, or being summoned to jury duty. Frustrated. Grumpy. Disgruntled. Not Happy. These things take away your ability to chose what to pursue and how to spend your time.

So what about when life throws you a set of circumstances that take away your ability to choose? There are all sorts of situations in which you have exactly zero choice. Sometimes things just happen. According to this theory, how can you be happy when life plays you a bad card?

Well I would venture to say that no one is happy when they get dealt a bad hand (excuse all the playing card allusions lately). But you CAN find happiness in how you choose to respond, what you choose to do next.

So in the spirit of being young and naive and optimistic, here’s a cliche. Maybe life really IS what you make it. Success is determined by your own definition, and happiness is quite literally, in your control.

Live Life Forward

Some of the most important people in my life have been the people who tell me things I absolutely don’t want to hear. People who illuminate my faults and point out my failures, who let me know when I am wrong and how to be better. (*insert special thanks to my parents here*)

This is never easy to hear, but these conversations aren’t meant to be hurtful or mean. In fact, it might be that the only thing more difficult than listening to someone else point out your faults is pointing out the faults of another. Pointing out someone’s faults is a risk.

Having your flaws pointed out, especially in an honest and forthcoming way is disarming, and unsettling. Too often our pride prevents us from truly listening and taking to heart the feedback we receive. One of my favorite quotes, that I forget all too often is from Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.

“When you’re screwing up and no body’s saying anything to you anymore that means they gave up on you […] your critics are the ones that are showing you they still love you and care”

I’ve been lucky to have people throughout my life who have given me this kind of critique. I have had friends and mentors who have been there to remind me that I AM going to be OK, that my crisis isn’t that big of a deal, to think of someone outside myself, and that talking through a movie is extraordinarily annoying.

My most recent feedback was actually from one of my new co-workers. After being thrown into new jobs and being notified of a business trip 700 miles away within the first 48 hours we bonded (like it or not). Walking back from dinner one night, she pointed out that it seems that I spend too much time talking about the past. My home, my school, my friends from other places. And while having a history is great and important, living entirely in the past is immature and quite frankly annoying. She instructed me to live life forward.

Being overwhelmed, a little homesick, intimidated, and scared, this was the last thing in the world I wanted to hear. But after thinking about it, she was right. Its hard to make friends in the present if all you talk about is your past.

There is nothing wrong with sharing your history with people, but its important to live life forward. Focus on the present. Focus on the future, on your goals and dreams and adventures to come. Don’t forget where you’ve been but its hard to move forward if you’re always looking back.