Growing Up: Liking It

The Awakening

In 1998, American Girl published the first edition of a book titled The Care and Keeping of You. The premise of the book was to educate frightened fathers and pubescent girls about the developing female body from the perspective of a “trusted, cool aunt”. And boy, did it ever.

Five years later, my mom bought the book and slipped it into my reading collection, hoping to prepare me for the impending doom of sex-ed class. Under the delightfully ignorant impression the book was a supplement to Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, I eagerly began reading and quickly became horrified. The book laid out devilish plans that claimed I’d better start preparing for the shag carpet I’d soon grow in my arm pits, the bleeding that would undoubtedly begin occurring for a week every month (and I wouldn’t die?), and these sweater puppies I’d get called breasts that I should hoist up or risk letting droop to the floor. For chrissake, I was a biological ticking time bomb.

So like every well adjusted pre-teen, I vowed to not grow up. I would not, could not, grow up. I would not in a box, not with a fox; I did not like this idea, Sam-I-Am!

I immediately decided the most obvious way to repress the onset of puberty would be to eliminate the possibility of getting boobs, because this was the feature I frequently bullied my 7th grade neighbor, Caity for having. My young, half-witted, developing brain was under the impression that a bra alone could stifle my body’s attempts to grow “outward” as disclosed by that diabolical American Girl book. After all, Kit Kittredge didn’t have a rack and I strongly suspected it was due to the shelf bra in her camisole. So now, the once tossed-aside precautionary Fruit of the Loom training bras suddenly became vital to my very essence of being. I would use them to strap down my non-existent boobs, I thought defiantly. That’ll stop the puberty!

We love an Aeropostale hoodie!

But my male peers had different ideas for my progression into womanhood. (Ask any grown female or weathered fourth grader.) Chances are she had her “come to Jesus, aw shucks I’m a woman!” moment when a male figure verbally abused her in some way. I soon learned it didn’t matter if my boobs came in or not, I was unwillingly and ungracefully thrust into womanhood in fifth grade when a classmate told me he made a Sim character of me and “woohooed” me in his hot tub.

Hallelujah, I was now a woman. I twirled in a circle, angels sang, and size 34B bras and Kotex tampons rained down from the heavens. Though I now realized there was a clear divide in males and females that could not be ignored, my body had not yet betrayed me.

But it would soon in seventh grade.

Pride and Period Juice

I don’t recall getting my first period. Some women conjure up wonderful tales of “becoming women” after delicately ruining a pair of Limited Too underwear at thirteen, but as previously discussed, I had already identified myself as a grown-ass woman since fifth grade, so I’m left to speculate as to what occurred and when. I can’t help but reasonably infer I thought I’d sharted my pants for a week straight until my mom knowingly slipped Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret into my reading collection.

Regardless, I do specifically recall the struggle of wearing a pad when I was in middle school. Terrified and terribly confused as to where a tampon should be inserted, I nearly passed out on the bathroom floor attempting to shove an entire plastic applicator up my a**hole. Much abashed, I now knew my only choice to combat Aunt Flow was to wear a super absorbent pad for three to five business days per month.

This is all fine and dandy while wearing my finest pair of dark-wash, bootcut Kohl’s Glo jeans, but wearing a pad became more difficult with the prospect of wearing spandex for volleyball, a new sport I was unfortunately good at due to the fact I could slam dunk on all my friends’ dads by age thirteen. Carefully unwrapping an Always “Sport” pad from its unbearably loud wrapper, I’d strategically stick the base into one pair of spandex and layer another pair of spandex over the first to hide any odd looking bumps should my teammates check out my ass during practice. I now had myself a bulletproof diaper that crinkled with every step I took. At that moment, I proudly secured my fate as a braces-wearing virgin for the next twenty years.

Not only did re-learning how to effectively wear a diaper for the first time since being a toddler benefit me for volleyball, but I could now feel more safe while at school as well. Layering a pad under two pairs of spandex and jeans allowed me to gain some confidence back after dreading I’d unleash an unholy flood on anything I sat on during the school day. The only thing I feared now was another girl hearing me unwrap a pad while in the bathroom during passing time. (This was something I avoided by unwrapping the pad quickly while the hand dryer was on. I learned this technique from when I’d take dumps during intermittent dryer blasts so no one would hear questionable splashes or plops- a process that could take up to an hour).

Vogue.

With time, a mirror stolen from my mom’s bathroom drawer, and the prospect of being cyberbullied by my older friends, I eventually found out how to use a tampon. I’m not sure how I felt when I graduated from wearing diapers a pad at age two, but I think the second time I graduated from wearing a diaper a pad and no longer required a spandex-diaper was much more iconic. I know this because the entire experience is written out in code in my diary (which was cleverly cracked by my sister using the key on the following page).

Saving Face, Feeling Great

In 2006, icy eyeshadow and glossy lips were all the rage in beauty magazines like Cosmo, Seventeen, and Teen Vogue. I wouldn’t have known this though. I first picked up Seventeen a year later in August 2007 (covergirl was Hilary Duff), confused as to why there were pictures of a latex tube unraveling itself onto a banana with step-by-step instructions on page 34.

While many chic, beautiful women and closeted gays can delightfully recall enchanting moments of their first encounters with makeup, I can’t relate. I never snuck into my mom’s makeup drawer to steal her Chanel Rouge lipstick or apply a quick spritz of an eau de parfum of any kind. I am not one of these fabulous gawdesses.

From what I can remember, my sister and I used to raid my mother’s makeup drawer for one item: blush. Instead of turning ourselves into sun-kissed kweens as advised by Revlon, we thought it hilarious to apply blush heavily all over our faces to feign a bad case of sun poisoning. I can only infer now this has to be the cause of why I continue to suffer from acne- it is simply because I applied blush so heavy handed in seventh grade that the pigment is still trying to free itself from my clogged pores.

Beyond applying blush, my first encounter with makeup was Maybelline’s “Silver Lining” eyeshadow. Pressed into a pan with small applicator, I skillfully smeared metallic pigment all across my sweaty lids. No mascara. No brows either- as far as teenage America was concerned, eyebrows simply did not exist until Anastasia Beverly Hills made us aware they were solely on our faces to draw in, dye, comb, pluck, fluff, gel, stencil, and spend $500 on per month.

As my hormones raged on into eighth grade, beauty magazines encouraged me to beat my face into quite the flawless, handsome-looking pancake. In addition to metallic eyeshadow, I now added foundation to my skin routine. Zits? Gross. No one could even know I had visible pores. I packed on five layers of foundation and concealer so I’d look like Ashley Tisdale in TigerBeat magazine.

Peep the blue metallic lipstick.

Because I did not have the porcelain skin of a china doll, I was at constant war with my face. At night I played a continuous, sweaty game of whack-a-mole in the mirror. With the calm determination of a deranged plastic surgeon on edibles, I tweezed, poked, prodded, and pushed my acne further into my pores. Any time one zit would subside, another rose up in its place. I would pick my face into submission or tweeze trying.

“It was from hitting myself in the face with a shovel”, I’d yell loudly to random passersby in the halls, making a gesture to the gouge I’d made in my forehead from trying to rid myself of a blackhead.

Turns out it’s increasingly hard to convince your peers you’ve been repeatedly hit in the face with a shovel, especially in the warm, summer months. So onward I continued, beating foundation into my skin even harder, making Aunt Jemima proud of her little pancake faced-child.

To Be Continued…

Boys, School Dances, Homosexuals, Social Media in 2007, and Cross-Dressing

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General Life Update: iPhone Tripod Pics and Self-Reliance

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Hey guys, I’m back.

In all seriousness, it’s been awhile since I last posted. I figured I owed the world an explanation as to why I seem to be posing in front of inanimate objects at an increasingly (and alarming) speed on both Instagram and Twitter (it’s because I was shown no love as a child and Uncle Scar killed my father to rule the kingdom…oh wait, that’s Lion King. Nevermind).

So while I love a good iPhone tripod and the horrified stare of those around me struggling to justify my existence in this world as I set a self-timer and frolic in front of monuments and paintings, this does little to describe the inner workings of my life. I told you, my social media pages can be likened to a fan’s crappy highlights mixtape of Steph Currey’s three-pointers from a few years back. All smiles, all the time.

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Me Pondering: Am I trying to find a Taco Bell in the distance? What is consciousness? Was Tupac’s death faked? Is he still alive?

So other than spending a good handful of my time trying to figure out how Kylie Jenner’s waist to hip ratio works (where does she fit her organs?!), I’ve spent a lot of time alone.

Awww, poor Kristin. Someone play me the world’s smallest violin, already!

At heart, I’m an extraverted introvert. Regardless, I’d say my time alone has overall been great and it’s worth it despite this fact.

My homeboy and Transcendentalist, Thoreau, would’ve also encouraged you to do get in some alone time- in fact, he’d probably try to help build you a cabin out in the middle of the woods somewhere to get you started. So while yes, I have actually had to bum it at various KOA campsites in the fall when I was literally homeless, I don’t recommend going that route unless you have a home to go home to with a shower and refrigerator in it (you can only survive on PB&Js and communal showers for so long, people).

Now that I have a place to sleep at night, I’m able to travel around the East Coast without the stress of knowing the AirBnb or campsite I’m staying at is completely draining my savings account.

And it’s been wonderful.

I spent a day drinking rosĂ© and sitting in front of some of Degas, Monet, and Whistler’s greatest paintings in Boston. Another day, I drove three hours north to the White Mountains because I’ve never seen them before. Later this summer, I bummed it on Cape Cod’s beaches, eating ice cream and watching seagulls bob around in the blue-green surf. I also had the fortune of traveling to San Francisco and every Ivy League school with Brown Volleyball this past fall. Even as I drive home each day through the heart of Providence, it’s some of the most normal moments like these that remind me of how lucky I am to have somehow “made it” here. I’m living, people!

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Me Pondering: where is that quarter I dropped? What is the meaning of life? Where am I?

In my time out here, traveling has served as an escape for me, especially this fall and winter. It’s also taught me a lot about myself. It’s just been, like, the year of realizing stuff. (Lol, if you recognize that, I’ll love you forever).

Though being alone has caused me to grow up a lot quicker than staying at home would have, I’ve also experienced some rough moments in my time here that are harder to capture in photographs.

Fighting depression, anxiety, mixed states, obsessions and compulsions can be a challenge in itself, but when you’re twenty hours away from home, there are many times when you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.

Not pictured on my Instagram are the torn layers of skin around my nails, infected and bloody from ripping them apart out of anxiety. Also missing are the days I wake up with puffy eyes from crying the night before over something so minor I can hardly ever recall what it was. Other things are too abstract for photographs: thoughts of panic gripping me, what are you doing? Why did you think moving was a good idea? I had spent four months desperately looking for a job and watched my savings account go from thousands of dollars to just $33.48 before I got my first paycheck in late November. 

Much of this past fall was filled with days where I fluctuated in a mixed state. The only way I can justifiably describe this to those who have never been through this themselves: you are never certain which of your thoughts are ingrained in reality and which are not.

So when this winter came, I welcomed back depression like an old friend after months of struggling in a mixed state.

Because I’m Bipolar II, I spend more time in the depressed state than the hypomanic state and find it much more familiar and much more manageable than being too “up”. It’s easier to feel suicidal now for me than it is to feel manic only in the sense that I’ve learned to acknowledge these thoughts as just thoughts and as a reminder I’m not well instead of thoughts I need to act on.

After seeing my family over the holidays for a whopping forty-eight-hour whirlwind adventure, I was motivated to help myself again. I started working out as an attempt to get myself out of the “funk” I now found myself in. I made myself a goal: to get in shape again so I’d be able to hike in the Adirondacks this spring and summer.

For the whole month of December and much of November, I had limited myself to 800 calories a day and wanted to cut the deficit to a lower amount. My obsessions had gotten worse for some time and I was extremely unhappy with the way I looked. It felt good to punish myself- I sucked at my job and felt like I was annoying everyone with my lack of knowledge. My position used none of my talents, I felt trapped, and it was hard enough to even show up to work much less try and remember details about leasing or financing a car (for those unaware, I work at a car dealership).

As January continued on, I tried to work out and travel more. I became less depressed and obsessed with my daily caloric intake and sometimes I’d feel happy, truly happy- not manic and out of control, but the real genuine thing. I spent less days dizzy, miserable, and light-headed and more days active and reflective.

Loneliness no longer bothered me to the extent it used to. I felt alone, but I learned to truly embrace it. For the first time ever, I decided to go to a fancy restaurant by myself in Boston a few days ago. People around me definitely stared, but I pretended not to notice. This wasn’t like your run-of-the-mill Panera or Starbucks, everyone there was dining with someone sans laptops and it was obvious I was alone. After a few minutes, I ordered a brie and turkey sandwich and ignored wandering eyes. My very existence felt defiant, so when asked if I wanted to see a dessert menu, I said “hell yeah”, much to my waiter’s chagrin.

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You bet I used a tripod. Me frolicking around the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. 

It was then that I truly realized that being alone doesn’t mean you have to feel lonely.

In fact, I’m often reminded of the Kristin I used to be as a child. I was always content reading a book rather than socializing. As I grew up, this changed. Everyone’s self confidence takes a dive as a teenager. We all looked weird as f*ck and were trying to figure out our place in the world. At the time, being with others helped me feel wanted. I had to be an okay person because others would hang out with me, right? I read less but had a lot of fun making new friends.

Although I’m always game to go out on a Saturday night, I’m also perfectly happy reading a book or driving around in my Ford Escape listening to NPR. It’s a balancing act now.

It doesn’t bother me as much anymore when I’m traveling and see couples and friends laughing and talking with one another because I also know the time I spend alone is giving me another chance to build a positive relationship with myself. It sounds silly, but it’s something I’m incredibly proud of because I’ve never truly liked myself in the past (I’ve always joked that I’m working on my positive self talk, but it’s hard when working with an idiot).

Bottom line, all the sh*t I’ve been through (both good and bad) this fall and winter has taught me a lot. I’ve learned to like myself a little more and enjoy the perks of traveling wherever, whenever. I also determined I’d rather build up my self worth internally than rely on another person’s opinion of me, whether it be positive or negative. While it’s great to be loved, it’s even better to have a good relationship with yourself that you’ve worked on yourself. Even if you have to go through what seems like hell and back to get there, I can promise you it’s definitely worth it in the end.

So here’s my challenge to you: pick a nice restaurant and eat alone. Order dessert. Get that $15 sangria. Take your time and try not to bring out your phone. Self-reliance has more than just a place in American Romanticism, enjoy it and learn to embrace it.

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Smiling because I’m liking myself more now. Also maybe because I see a taco floating in the water. 

Can We Attribute Our Unhappiness to Social Media?

This is old news by now, but does the name Essena O’Neill ring a bell? No? In case you missed out on her video that went viral last November, I’ll give you a semi-quick rundown on the seventeen minute video. You can also check out her video here. 

Amidst tears, O’Neill draws attention to how “fake” she believes the social media world has become and how unaware the average viewer is to what really goes on behind the beautiful, yet highly unrealistic images viewers see on a daily basis. She claims her departure from this impractical world should serve as a wake up call for all her followers.

She tearfully continues on with her video (sans makeup) arguing “culture creates validation and insecurities” and later begs viewers and social media personalities to create content that isn’t based on “views, likes, or followers”. Furthermore, she launches a tirade against the business behind sponsored or paid social and posts, a current hot topic for those interested in law (and more particularly, fashion law). This topic has recently forced one of our independent federal agencies, the Federal Trade Commission, to pay more attention to how they can protect consumers on social media in the future*. More on this below, but back to O’Neill’s video for now.

While watching this young Australian’s video, I found it shocking to think someone could blame many of their insecurities on apps that pubescent Silicon Valley geeks dreamt of in their parents’ basements (I’m only half sarcastic, here). Could social media really be blamed for this young woman’s unhappiness?

This brings me to my question for you today: does quitting social media remedy the true nature of our unhappiness?  Is this truly going to help fix negative feelings you have toward yourself?

O’Neill believed this was the answer. Soon after posting her self-declared “last Youtube video”, she proceeded to delete all her social media sites save for one, Instagram, but only after deleting two thousand photos off her account. Keeping a few select pictures, she quickly gave new captions to those that remained with newer, brutally honest captions:

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She later deleted her Instagram account as well.

After she made these changes, O’Neill said she hoped to start a movement where the average viewer could realize their self worth isn’t determined by their physical attributes or social media influence. Just because O’Neill thought she wasted many years living a lie didn’t mean others should as well.

This being said, there’s many varying opinions on whether social media serves an overall good purpose or not. We see lovers connect, celebrities make millions, and teens cyberbully others all within seconds of a simple flick of the thumb. It’s simultaneously amazing, yet terrifying.

Personally, I admit I’m no stranger to unhappiness which I can partially attribute to social media, and on a deeper level, my deep rooted desire to be perfect. I can definitely admit I’ve felt validated after reaching a new high of “likes” or “views” on social media platforms, while also feeling crushed when a new profile picture doesn’t get as many likes as I would’ve thought. Was I not thin enough? Had I not marketed my post effectively? Should I feel embarrassed to post a selfie? As my Pop Culture professor so wisely said, “I receive likes, therefore I exist”. Any “like” I’ve received has given me validation. Though I know this ultimately to be false, it’s hard to continually remind myself of this over and over again. I’m sure many others would agree.

In saying this, I realize I’m part of the problem I’ve created for myself. I’ve spent HOURS clicking through photos, scrolling down my home feed, and stalking girls I don’t know, obsessing how I’m not as pretty, thin, or worry free and happy as they seem. How can I realistically think another person’s life is trouble free based on photos they are able to manipulate? All my own photos are edited, retouched, and manipulated to catch me in both the best lighting and during the most flattering “picture perfect moments”. How is fair to assume their photos haven’t been as well?

I seem to get the most likes on the most perfect photos of myself and my behavior seems to continue to snowball into what could resemble a highly predictable lab experiment as a result. People like following people who look happy and pretty. It’s inspirational. I accumulate likes, therefore I am. More happy photos, more likes. More likes, more happiness. It’s a vicious negative feedback loop we’ve created for ourselves.

So should I abandon my Facebook, multiple Twitter accounts, Snapchat, and Instagram in search of this ever elusive happiness I’ve been chasing for a large portion of my life? I’ve tried. For a couple months I wasn’t on Facebook, I didn’t enjoy Snapchat until a year after it became popular, and quit using my beloved Twitter because I didn’t think I could handle the responsibility. We’ve all had friends who express their distaste at the world of social media and delete accounts only to reinstate their profiles some odd months or weeks later.

So does unplugging our lives make us happier in the end?

I’m not so sure. I’m not so sure we’ll ever know the answer, or whether there even is a “right” answer (don’t get me started on existentialist theories). Finding happiness may or may not be as simple as deleting your accounts if you’re disconsolate. Quite simply, this is a discussion up for debate and it’s a highly personal and contested matter. I understand deleting accounts out of inactivity, but deleting based on lack of self esteem?

Though there’s no simple solution to this complex problem, I firmly believe we have the power to be part of the solution, not the problem as social media users. I think it’s time to stop viewing social media as an untamable beast, because we have the opportunity to control what we post and what we view to an extent. We have small opportunities to put a positive spin on what we see every day!

Armed with this positivity, I decided to do my own experiment on Instagram a few months ago. I posted a close up photo of my face, one half with makeup and editing, the other without any makeup or retouching. The response I received was more than I could’ve ever asked for. It was my most popular post since joining Instagram five years ago, and still would’ve been considered it my top post even if it had gotten no likes. It’s possible to use social media for good purposes to outweigh the bad. It felt like I was holding up my middle finger to all the negative feelings that haunted me from this picture perfect image of myself that I had wanted to be.

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The photo I took of myself showing both sides of social media. Perception versus reality.

So even though I’ve dragged you through a lengthy post just to give you no solid answer to the question of whether quitting social media remedies the true nature of our unhappiness, I hope this makes you think. Maybe the question shouldn’t lie in whether social media can make us unhappy or not, but instead on how we can participate in this world with more realistic expectations of ourselves. Yes, bloggers will edit their photos. Many girls will airbrush their skin to perfection, and others will show off expensive meals, new makeup and cars or share lengthy posts of their vacations to Ibiza on Snapchat. This all is inevitable, especially given social is a huuuge, untapped resource for anyone who’d like to market to millennials (at the very least!). I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see many brands add or increase both organic and paid social within the next few years. My only hope is that we all get a little more educated and that the Federal Trade Commission is able to keep up and catch unlawful practices**. However, it’s up to us to get stronger.

Long story short, when Essena O’Neill decided to post her last YouTube video last November, she set off a firestorm of response from her peers and viewers. The question of whether social media serves a positive or negative purpose is too difficult a question to give one finite answer to. For some, quitting social media may help reduce feelings of inadequateness, decrease their maladaptive pleasure seeking impulses, and potential depression. As O’Neill showed, even those who seem at the top on social media platforms can suffer behind closed doors. Their lives and paychecks revolve around likes, views, and shares. But our lives don’t have to.

I’ve felt both positively validated and negatively impacted through what others and myself have posted. The answer we seek may not lie with whether our happiness is a direct result of social media, but instead, whether we’re able to control the intake of information through educating ourselves and constant reminders that this world has the aptitude to seem airbrushed and perfect. I’m going to challenge myself to view the social world as less of an intimidating place, but as a burgeoning market for retailers and promoters. I’m also going to vow to constantly remind myself there’s more to life than a “bikini ready” beach bod or nailing that perfect cat eye. Both are great, yes, but remember that you alone are enough. You breath, you love, you are loved, therefore you are!

xx

Kristin

Please don’t hesitate to comment and reach out, whether you agree or disagree with me. Let’s keep the discussion going!

 

*As many of you know, influencers and bloggers are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to wear, drink, or promote a company’s merchandise, often ignoring the rules the FTC lays down to protect consumers from what they determine to be “unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace” (per their site’s “What We Do” section). For more information on the FTC, I encourage you to visit their site! 

**One of my favorite fashion law bloggers continues to call out popular bloggers (L’Oreal’s 15 L’Orealista bloggers, the Man Repeller, amongst many other offenders) for not appropriately disclosing paid posts. Putting #sp in the description part of photos is no longer enough. The Fashion Law’s founder and editor-in-chief explains this all much better than I ever could. Find her explorations of calling out bloggers here.

 

The One Big Thing I’ve Learned From The Business School of Hard Knocks

As many of you fine fellows out there know, there’s no way in hell I went to business school. I once flirted with the idea of it while going through a mid-nineteen-year-old-crisis. I rebounded quickly, thinking romantically to myself, “I’ll do what I love, I’ll stick it to the man!”

And on that night, I made love to my Shakespeare textbook. I never once looked back… No one ever regrets majoring what they love, right? RIGHT? Lol! ❤ Triumphantly, here I sit, four years later, sitting and typing this to you at my parents’ house, grossly overusing commas, and valiantly ignoring my mother’s continuous requests to make my bed and brush my teeth.

But anyway, as I trudge along the path of Life with a capital “L”, I’m here to say I’ve swagged hard enough to earn a degree from the School of Hard Knocks in Business. I want to tell you, “you won’t learn this crap in college”, but truth is, you might (with less teenage/Urban Dictionary-like vernacular to say the least). I wouldn’t know otherwise. Either way, I’m giving it to you for free. It just may be one step away from taking online courses through Globe University. Consider yourself on a journey to getting certified in business from Crapbag University. Amazing! (!!!!!!!)

So what makes me qualified to write about this? Nothing, really. I suppose I’ve lived on this planet and worked in a couple business-y sort of environments which make me feel like my opinion matters, but other than that, I have nothing but my experience to show for. My opinions are shaped by my experiences, and this is what gives me this particular, current worldview. As usual, I recommend reading at your own risk, and taking anything I say with a grain of salt. I’m here to tell you what I think, and you’re free to disagree. I won’t fight you. But I will if we’re fighting over the last Quesalupa in the backseat of your car after going through the T-Bell drive thru.

Let me begin by first clarifying my current job. Eh mah gawd, so stahp asking already!

Essentially, I work in a call center. I have a headset on most of the week, ready to protect the brand. The company I work for is a place that other corporations and businesses hire to do the things they don’t want to, or don’t have time to do, like taking calls from people who don’t understand how to work ordinary household items, and taking calls from people who are pissed off a company make “crappy” household items. That’s at least how I think of it.

My job description gave a wonderful overview of this so-called “social media specialist” thing, where I’d “manage social media accounts”, and “identify adverse events”. It’s not a lie, it’s what I do, but for the first half of the week I basically take calls from customers who have product quality complaints. The second half of the week, I’m on Facebook. Yep, gotta take the cape off when I get home. I help save so many lives!

I’m also occasionally waitressing  on the side, which can bump my working hours up to 50-60 hours per week. It’s amazing, because even though I’m busy, I still have all this time to complain and remind all my friends about it!!! I wish I could say I’m finding myself in good company, whining on a pile of George Washingtons and all, but truth is I’m not. It’s hard being fabulous when daddy makes you a budget that slashes your disposable income in half. Dude, Reedo cut my disposable income like Reagan and George Double-ya cut taxes. How the hell am I going to carelessly buy satin handkerchiefs now, dad? Ugh~

This leads me to the “curriculum” of this post. This, right here, is the crap I’ll be yelling at my grandkids as I’m sitting rocking back and forth in a rickety, old rocking chair, with my teeth falling out, and saliva dripping down my wrinkled chin (too much tanning). Here’s the one important thing I’ve learned through my jobs. Below, you’ll find information that may not be pretty, but like I said, this is the School of Hard Knocks, brah! Pimpin’ ain’t easy!

Here’s the one thing I’ll be shouting at my grandkids other than “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”:

There are a bunch of different people out there, many with different backgrounds and upbringings than you.

Duh? Point is, I had been used to my little bubble while in college. Surrounded (mostly) by Division 1 athletes, ambitious double majors, cynical kids who didn’t get into Cornell, and people who scored at least 1910 on their SATs, I had myself thinking this was the “real world”. Before I sound like an ass, let me explain myself. I had the privilege of going to a great university where I was pushed because of the intelligence of those around me. This is a huuuuge part of what makes a great school a “great school”.  This bubble of people had me thinking this is how every workplace would be. You’ll find that once you’re out trying to find a job, this is not always true.

While working at my previous and current jobs, I’ve met a plethora of different people with their own backgrounds. A single mother busting her butt trying to complete her undergrad while working forty hours a week, a young guy who didn’t think a four year degree was for him (my dad, FYI), an old man who took the job so he can make ends meet… Not every workplace is full of young, hip, well-educated kids. Not everyone goes to a four year college after high school. When I was in high school, I didn’t think of any other option besides getting a bachelor’s degree. It’s what people did. It just came as a sort of culture shock for me after school, when I realized not everyone had at least a similar upbringing to me. There are many different routes you can take to where you’re going, many, which lead to the same place. Everyone’s just try’na hustle and get paid. #Capitalism, right?

So bottom line, here. The BSoHK (Business School of Hard Knocks, it’s a thing now. Just like saying “fetch”) has taught me that upon graduating, you’re in a bubble no longer. The only bubble you’re in is literally the workforce. It doesn’t matter who’s in your bubble, or where that bubble came from, but that bubble has dissolved once you apply to 75%*** of jobs out there. Keep in mind, people around you are own their own paths to wherever it is they’re going. They’ve had different upbringings, different educations, and different experiences themselves. It doesn’t make anyone intrinsically “better” than anyone else- it only means there will be people who are qualified for different jobs than other people. And that’s the god honest truth.

It took me until now to get off my high horse and fully realize that the workplace can contain many different people. The more I type, the more stupid I realize I sound, but I honestly took my “bubble” to be something that I’d live in the rest of my life.

When I graduated, I thought everything would come easily. I graduated from a great school, was able to juggle athletics with academics, and thought this would be able to carry into getting a job I felt passionate about right off the bat. This is the case for some, but not others. There are too many factors that go into getting a job after college to isolate just one thing that “gets you the job” or not (besides maybe just know someone important and don’t be stupid, or having a company so severely understaffed they still take you despite you telling them you were a cat in 5th grade), but just keep in mind, you’ll be amongst people who have a totally different backgrounds than you for the rest of your life. It’s SO important to remember this, and keep this in mind not only in the workforce, but in life as well.

So before I turn you all into a bunch of hippies and encourage you to hold my hand as we sit in a circle singing kumbaya mah lawd, let me say this:

It’s comfortable to be in a bubble. You’re surrounded by people you can relate to, who have had similar upbringings and lives. However, allowing yourself to get outside this bubble can encourage personal growth. YOU CAN LEARN SO MUCH ABOUT YOURSELF AND OTHERS! Kumbaya, damn it! No one’s bubble is better or worse than yours. They simply just are. It’s kind of cool, when you think about it. Where you are right now may not be your final destination, but challenge your bubble and embrace it. Nothing worth having is easy, and stepping outside your comfort zone can help you figure out your character as a human if you let it. Embrace the change, face the challenge head on, and have no fear, because the only fear you should have in life is if Taco Bell runs out of tortilla shells. God bless.

5 Things I Have No Time For Now That I’ll be Turning 23

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been debating if I wanted to write a whole post on everything I’ve learned about working in the service industry. I couldn’t get myself to sit down and write anything during my day off, so I figured if I didn’t feel extremely passionate about it at that moment, I’d save it for later.

And I’m glad I did.

As I was showering this morning (most of the time I start great conversations with myself are in between music breaks of Celine Dion and Enya while shaving my legs), I was thinking about all the crap I just don’t put up with anymore. I don’t put up with buying cheap, disposable clothing from H&M or F21, I don’t put up with the dog scratching my door at night, and I certainly don’t put up with how many times Kim Kardashian posts per day on Instagram anymore. Like, hello? Unfollow?

But besides those things, I found that I don’t put up with a lot of things that I did in high school and college. Hey mom and dad! I grew up! I swear I did! So as a celebration of this, I’ve compiled a super trendy (not really) list of super mature insights (possibly) that I had while taking a shower this morning (okay, this is true).

1.) Rudeness

Now that I have two part-time jobs that exclusively deal with directly providing services to people, I can say I’ve seen some of the best and the worst of humans as consumers.

And I just don’t have the willingness to give the rude people the time of day anymore.

I’ve had customers who I’ve asked as they walk into my store, “hey how’re you? Weather still pretty bad out there?” respond by glaring at me and telling me they’re “only browsing”. It’s certainly off-putting to have someone treat you as such when you’re just doing what your job requires. I don’t enjoy dealing with rude customers, and certainly don’t enjoy dealing with rude people either.

So like I said on my rant on Snapchat about a week ago, treat everyone with kindness no matter how poorly your own day is going. Whenever I’m having a bad day, it always helps trying to make someone else’s day a little brighter. In turn, I feel better about myself and another person walks away feeling better themselves if I didn’t get too socially awkward with our encounter.

2.) Texting Games

I don’t text often (my friends can attest to the fact that I rarely make appearances in groupchats…I like to think of it as a sort of decreased sense of responsibility to answer the more people in the chat), but when I do, I’m not there to play games. I’ve spent much of my high school and college years playing the whole “ehmahgawd, so-and-so just texted me! I’m going to have to wait at least fifteen days to respond so I don’t look so desperate ❤ ” game and in reality, I could’ve probably had some great conversations in the time I spent looking at my Motorola Razr screen counting down the minutes until I felt it was okay to respond.

I don’t have time for that anymore, and if a guy I’m texting thinks I’m “desperate” or “totes DTF” because I don’t give enough shits to wait longer, then I’m happy I’ve weeded him out of my life by being myself and being upfront with my motives.

If I’m texting you, I clearly enjoy talking to you. It’s that simple. If I’m not replying in a groupchat, it’s because I’m Kristin Hovie and my long-ass nails are hindering my ability to answer you quickly and effectively, so I just don’t bother.

3.) Mind Games

Once again, I used to play these sorts of games while in high school, but now that I look back, I don’t feel very powerful for doing so. Clearly I had a complex going on or something and wanted to feel control over any possible aspect of my life. Turns out, it only seems exhausting, pointless, and manipulative now. And it was.

The only trick up my sleeve nowadays remains my unflinching ability to make every guy I meet believe that I’m “just one of the guys”. I can’t even lie and say I do it purposefully for some ulterior motive; I do it because quite frankly, I’m too afraid of the unknown. I have no idea what it’s like to be talking to someone where there are mutual feelings.

So before I get too off topic with “poor me” anecdotes, bottom line that I’m getting across here is that when it comes to my friends or anyone else I may be talking to, I just don’t feel up to playing anyone anymore. What you see with me is what you’re going to get because I already have enough chronic overthinking to do without the mind games.

4.) Lying

Let me just say that if you are wearing, perhaps, the most god-awfully ugly sweater and we are not at an ugly sweater Christmas party, I will lie to your face and tell you, “I love your sweater” when prompted. I’ll lie to your face if it makes you happy when it comes to trivial matters such as this. The lying I’d like to say I’ve found I no longer have time for is specifically lying about the way I feel when it is detrimental to my happiness.

This isn’t a black and white sort of point I’m trying to make. Its been hard to be able to muster up the courage to say something when I know the other party might be content or oblivious with my projected feelings and the way things are going at that time. Sometimes it is best to pretend that you’re okay when you’re not. But in my personal life, I’ve found that I am often most happy when I tell the truth, even if it immediately hurts.

When someone you know asks you if you’re okay and you can honestly say you are not, think about the possible outcomes you may expect for being upfront if they are the issue. Who is asking? Why are they asking? Do you value their opinion and care about them? Proceed with caution.

This is a very personal opinion of mine because I know others who are able to mask the way they feel until they can “get over” something. Unfortunately, I’m more of a “let’s talk it out” sort of person than a person who has the ability to move on without the discourse. Not sure if that’s a sort of l’essence prĂ©cède l’existence deal or vice versa, but it’s something I can’t (and won’t) ignore.

5.) Depression

I firmly believe that happiness is a choice, and I say this even knowing how difficult shaking off the sludge of depression is. Sadness, to me, is a beautiful thing. When my grandpa passed away, I felt sad. Sadness is different than depression. Sadness shows you cared and loved something or someone dearly. Depression is maladaptive (not saying nothing good comes from it, but depression is not what is considered “normal”, if you catch my drift). I feel like such a cheeseball for saying this and might need to go chop some wood for an hour or air guitar to My Chemical Romance after this to make up for it, but it’s something I find to be true for myself.

And I don’t have time for it.

Going to work at my sales job has been one of those things I wake up and dread every single day I go in. I do not consider myself a natural when it comes to sales, and I have to put on a sort of “act” every time I go in. Yesterday, I decided I didn’t want to put up with my whininess any longer, so I turned on some music and danced like a complete fool in front of a mirror for an hour before leaving for work. And guess what? It worked. Putting my foot down and telling myself, “this is not how I want to live” changed my perspective. I could make the most out of my day if I tried hard enough and found something positive in every perceived negative I came upon.

Rude customer? Cool. I’ll focus on the other customer who needs to be styled. Didn’t meet my sales goal for the day? I’ll focus on the fact that I made some great emotional connections with my customers today.

This may seem like common sense to you guys, but it doesn’t come naturally. This is a huge breakthrough for me. This is when I say something cliche about life being too short to blah blah blah. You know the drill.

So there are plenty more things I don’t have time for, such as how many times Kendall Jenner appears in Vogue editorials or Instagram models posing with barely any clothes on, but these are my big five as of now. One other point I was thinking of adding was one that made me kind of sad- friends. I’ve found that you will have increasingly less time to spend with friends because working takes up much of your life. Weekends are the only time left reserved for friends (unless you can go to dinner during the week or something) and weekends go quickly when planning things out. Coordinating dates that work out for most of the friends in your group is no easy task. Something doesn’t work next week for one friend? What about the next week? You’re going to visit your family. The next week after that, maybe? That’s already three weeks gone.

Pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?

Value the time you have. High school and college had me thinking it was normal to be able to see your friends every day for most months out of a year. Turns out for life afterwards, it gets a little harder. It’s sad, but you figure out quickly who you value and the lengths you’ll go to for those friendships. It’s a pretty cool thing when you think about it- and that’s where I’ll leave you for today.