Advice From Abroad: Travel, Travel, Travel!

As I’ve commented before, everyone’s life after college is going to look different as there are a plethora of lifestyles to live. While surveying different people on their post-grad life, I’ve been choosing people strategically to sharpen these differences and bring into focus why it’s so important to remember that everyone’s path is different after getting that diploma.

“I think that there is a general expectation, or maybe hope, that after you graduate college, you will have it all figured out.  For some, that may be true, but it certainly was not for me.  I knew where I wanted to be, but I had no idea how to get there.  I still feel that way.  There is a lot of undue pressure put on new college graduates.  As obvious as this may sound, you figure it out as you go and that is more than okay.” – Kate, Graduate Student in Edinburgh, Scotland.  

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Initially I was curious how she ended up in Scotland, as she is native to Philadelphia, so she gave me a brief background on what she did right after graduation from La Salle University. “I went on a service trip through La Salle to Kenya for three weeks, where I was inspired to fully pursue the course of study I am presently undertaking (international relations).  I continued to work at the Independence Visitor Center in Center City, Philadelphia where I worked for three years throughout college.  During that gap year, I applied to graduate schools throughout the UK.  I traveled with my mother to Belfast and Edinburgh to visit the two prospective schools I was torn between but now, here I am in Edinburgh!”

So basically, travel is in Kate’s blood and she wants to urge recent graduates to consider their traveling options now while they have the chance. “Please travel! It may be the first instance where you have a large amount of time to do so. There is no better way to connect with other people in this world and yourself.  I can promise you that you will never regret the money spent on making memories while traveling.”

Any transition, small or large, is going to be challenging so I asked her what her what her expectations were for post-grad life upon graduation and Kate commented that, “I knew it would be hard to transition from being a student for 16+ years to not being a student.  However, no one quite prepares you for that first August/September when you are not back in a classroom.  Personally, that was a tough adjustment because being a student was something I felt I was good at.  I had to figure out who I was without the “student” label.  A year out of school can feel like an eternity and adjusting back into being a student can feel just as strange, especially in a foreign academic system.  I still haven’t quite found the academic rhythm I used to have, and I am not sure I will.  However, I sure am having a lot more fun than I did throughout my undergraduate years and that sure is the best surprise!  I’ll take the memories made with awesome people over top marks any day and that has been the best realization I’ve come to in my post-grad years.”

Which I then followed up by asking what she found to be recurring frustrations surrounding her life right now which she answered, “This is probably a cliché answer, but I would have to say the uncertainty of what to do next.  I think at least once a day about how I am spending a lot of money on a fancy piece of paper that is a master’s degree to not be sure of whether or not I will be able to use the knowledge and skills I hope I am acquiring in the professional world.  That is a risk all students take who are pursuing higher education. You have to factor reality into your goals and sometimes that can be quite discouraging.” 

There is definitely something daunting about her last statement, but it definitely holds a lot of truth. However, hearing other people voice the same thoughts that I have in my head makes it somewhat less discouraging because it brings me to the realization that there is this whole community of twenty-somethings facing the same confusion and questions, and that makes post-grad life a little less extreme.

Although Kate stressed multiple times in her survey that she loves everything that is embodying her life right now, as humans, we still face obstacles. Kate added that, “The biggest obstacle I feel I faced and continue to face is myself and the own pressures I put on myself.  I have fallen into episodes of “Imposter Syndrome” where I did not give myself credit where credit was due.  My first postgraduate semester at the University of Edinburgh was a bit tough because of this.  It took me a while to feel that I deserved to be among my peers.  I wouldn’t say that I would do anything differently, but I wish I would not have psyched myself out so much and accepted that moving at your own pace or feeling like a rookie in new situations is perfectly fine.”

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It was interesting to see this answer come up because in the previous survey I conducted from a grad school student, their answer was pretty similar.

In addition to her advice on travel, Kate also encourages college graduates to keep in touch with former professors.

“After graduating, keep in touch with professors who have had a positive impact on your academic experience during your undergraduate education.  They will love to know what you are up to and love it even more if they knew how they have inspired you.  You will need them later as well if you intend to pursue postgraduate education and they will most likely be more than happy to help.”

Kate’s life in Edinburgh is a life that one should admire. Seeing all of her pictures from traveling to different countries throughout Europe makes me jealous but also so proud of her for having the courage to do something most cannot, which is moving out of your comfort zone and finding a home away from home on your own.

I asked Kate to leave me with some quotes she lives by and this one seems fitting.

“You’re looking at a middle-class guy. I am who I am.” – former Vice President, Joe Biden.

“I am proud of where I come from and the family I come from.  There is nothing I love more in this world than my family, friends who are family, and the city of Philadelphia.  I am a firm believer in the importance of remaining true to yourself and your roots.”

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn

The best kind of happiness is the kind that comes into your life when you least expect it. Between toxic relationships, endlessly job searching for months, anxiety, 2017 wasn’t the easiest year. But just like everything else, pros and cons go hand in hand. Although I struggled from time to time this past year, I also had a lot of great opportunities to experience and I’m so grateful to reflect on the better times because good always outweighs the bad.

I had the chance to visit a few new cities, spend a lot of time on the beach, read new books, focus on myself, start a new job and develop new friendships. I’m happy about everything good that has come my way, but I’m not entirely sad to see 2017 come to a close and I’m more than happy to embark on 2018.

As many of you know, I’ve had a difficult and defeating time seeking full-time employment this past year, which I know some people can relate to and I wish you all the best of luck in your process! However, I do not have to continue my search as I accepted a full-time offer right before the holiday. When accepting the offer over the phone, I literally said to the woman, “This is the greatest Christmas gift I’ve ever received”, and there is so much truth behind that.

The past few weeks, knowing that this is the last of my excessive free time, have been so stress- free and relaxing. The weight I feel has been lifted from my shoulders, from both external and internal pressures to find a full-time job, is indescribable.

As the saying goes, good things take time, and I guess time is what I needed. The past year and a half as post-grad have definitely been unconventional from the outside looking in, but I feel I’m right where I’m meant to be. I’m learning that as you get older, people’s opinions of your choices become more and more irrelevant, and I think that’s something everyone should keep in the back of their minds. I think my biggest regret of 2017 was caring so much about what everyone else thought and ignoring what I actually cared about. Maybe it’s easier said than done, but it’s an empowering feeling when you finally conquer this tactic.

Even though it’s just a change in date on the calendar, a new year can be an opportunity for change, growth and fulfillment. Although I don’t have a resolution, and I don’t normally do, I’m definitely more committed than ever to focusing on me in every way, shape and form. Whitney Port posted an Instagram that resonated with where I am right now and I couldn’t love it more.

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She captions the quoted picture with “Loving yourself isn’t only the greatest revolution, but the greatest resolution.”

Wherever you’re at in your life, don’t forget to love yourself. If you’re in a tough place or confused or lost, just remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn, as Florence and The Machine says.

Happy New Year!

6 Books To Help You Through Your 20s

As an avid reader, I’ve always found a comfort in books due to the way they can take you away from all of life’s distractions. But, this past year the distractions have been harder to silence and more prominent in noise, that I’ve had to adjust my reading list from fiction to non-fiction.

The 6 books I discuss in this post have been helpful while navigating through adulthood, familiarizing with post-grad life and overcoming everyday obstacles. The stories that line the pages of these books are a true comfort to anyone simply just trying to figure life out. Also- any of these would make for a perfect Christmas or graduation gift! Hope you find something of interest

The Big Life by Ann Shoket

In this empowering book written by Ann Shoket, former Editor in Chief of Seventeen magazine, ‘The Big Life’ is defined as that delicious cocktail of passion, career, work, ambition, respect, money and a monumental relationship. Shoket stresses that this life is something that you want on your own terms, which is important to remember throughout your life. This bad bass babe wanted to be able to provide advice for those women who thirst for this kind of life and she crafted this book in her own unique way- through hosting a series of dinners in her apartment. Each dinner consisted of a group of about 6 or so friends of a friend of a friend coming together to talk about their life and what they felt was missing. After a few of these dinners, Shoket began recognizing that a lot of the questions these women were feeling internally were similar across the board of all different demographics. These included:

  • How do I find a career that is also my passion?
  • How do I find a partner who honors my ambition?
  • How will I be able to have a big, demanding career without taking my foot off the gas when I have children?
  • How do I get paid what I’m worth?
  • How do I get the respect I deserve from my bosses?
  • And finally, will all this struggle be worth it?

These questioned framed the story for this book and the real-life stories you will read are pure, hard-core and relatable. This book resonates so well with many of the posts I have written on this blog and was also very entertaining and educational. It definitely does not disappoint!

Side note: I was able to meet & speak with Ann at Head House Books in Philadelphia about this book which was an incredible opportunity as a writer. 

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All Groan Up by Paul Angone

This book entails the time line of a guy who struggled a for a long time with post-grad life. Unfortunate endeavors, dead ends, highs and lows, and small victories. His story and his writing are inspiring and had the ability to comfort me about the immediate state I was in upon graduation. He makes his readers know that it’s acceptable not to have a concrete plan or a road map to success, and sympathizes with the struggles faced by recent graduates who live in a world full of unknown. Paul Angone outlines what it’s like to be in the real world with absolutely no answers, through his personal experiences and endeavors, and how he finally got to where he wanted to be through hard work and a lot of trial and errors.

And he was right, things do work out, even if takes some time to and even if they end up in ways you didn’t expect. All Groan Up is emotionally fundamental, but also hilarious, witty and entertaining!

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Bossypants by Tina Fey

It’s no surprise that Tina Fey is comical in every way, but her writing in this book actually had me laughing out loud. Her wit, honesty and bluntness make this book about finding your way through the details of her own personal accounts will make you feel better about yourself in every way.

I was completely sold after the short 3 page introduction caused by joke after joke. I highly recommend this book not only to those having a difficult or confusing time after college or in adulthood, but anyone in their 20s! It also instills a mantra to carry with you which is that of:

“Either way, everything will be fine.”

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Maybe I’m a bit biased because I love every single thing about Minday Kaling, but this book was an absolute page turner. Similar to Bossypants, which is appropriate because Kaling has been referred to as Fey’s younger sister before, ‘Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?’, this book instills the theme and importance of resilience in your life. Kaling is so respectable because she is honest and makes fun of herself and doesn’t give a damn what people think.

Part Two, I Forget Nothing: A Sensitive Kid Looks Back, was one of my favorite sections as well as her take on Jewish guys.

These humorous, truthful essays were entertaining and insightful and I’m eager to read her latest book, Why Not Me?

Apologies in advance for anyone who doesn’t know Mindy outside of her character on The Office- she admits she is nothing like Kelly Capore!

P.S. If you haven’t already, check out The Mindy Project  on Hulu!

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed

To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to like this book. I felt it was too heavy and emotional for me especially after reading the first chapter. But I am happy to admit I was wrong because I cannot give enough praise to this book. Truly inspiring and sincere, Wild evoked emotions I didn’t even know I possessed. The feeling of being lost in her own life resonates with me to a certain degree and maybe that’s why I enjoyed following alongside her journey so much, so any post-grad still looking for answers, this book is a great read while you figure it out!

A true story of strength, perseverance and courage, Wild is one to inspire. It is honest and naked to the core.

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101 Secrets for Your Twenties

Author of All Groan Up listed above, 101 Secrets for Your Twenties is a book full of great insights for any post-grad, millennial or anyone trying to survive adulthood.

In his introduction, Angone writes, “I think we can all agree: This twentysomething shoot ain’t easy. It’s a decade exploding with intensity and ambiguity. Anxiety and excitement. Purpose and pointlessness. Answers riddled with questions. Paradoxes mixed with 100 percent certainties. There are so many “firsts”. So much change. So many “what ifs, what nows, and what the hecks.”

This book is crafted perfectly for anyone asking themselves the question, “What now?”

Here are a few of my favorite “secrets”:

  • Making and keeping friendships in your 20s is harder than G.I. Joe’s Abs.
  • Those friends who are uber-successful in their 20s are the outlier- not the norm.
  • A college diploma is not your golden ticket into DreamJobLand.
  • Obsessive Comparison Disorder is the smallpox of our generation.
  • The Freshmen Fifteen is nothing compared to the Cubicle Cincuenta.

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I hope this guideline of books for your 20s was helpful and enticing! Even if you don’t usually read, you may want to give one of these a try, especially if you’re a post-grad and feel like you have no answers!

Does College Groom You To Become A Professional Bullshitter?

Not only in regards to work ethic, college has groomed us to become professional bullshitters in everyday life. Whether it’s pretending to know what you’re talking about at work or lying to your parents about your ‘good’ financial standing in order to justify your degenerate weekend habits, we’ve all become really, scarily good at pretending, lying and fabricating.

Driving home from work one night last week, I heard the latest way college students are sliding by and continuing to do the bare minimum. Coming up short for a lengthy essay? Write in a bunch of random words at the end, make them the smallest font size possible and change the font color to white. Apparently you can cut out a significant amount of those required words.

Half the battle in college, particularly dealing with presentations, is acting like you know what you’re talking about, being confident, sounding educated and not seeming nervous or flustered. Not much has changed from college to work. Whenever I’m asked a question I’m unsure of, or just not completely positive, I just nod my head with reassurance that I comprehend it and am in the loop. However, 80% of the time, as soon as someone walks away I’m breaking into a panic in my head, fingers are going 100 mph on the keyboard, searching for something relevant to the topic, attempting to figure it out. It’s all about playing it cool. I came across this meme on Twitter and found it so fitting for this post.

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And even when you know you’re doing something wrong, or outside your scope of work at the office, you always have a back-up plan, or response, in case you get caught. For example, printing personal stuff, browsing through social media or online shopping, there is always a part of you that is playing devil’s advocate, brainstorming ways to BS your way out of the potential situation of being caught.

Furthermore, when it comes to discussion board posts or papers, sometimes all you have to do is ramble on and on until you convince someone else, or even yourself, that you’re making sense and telling the truth. Similarly to small talk at the office, when someone asks how your weekend was, you’re obviously not going to respond with, “Omg so much fun, I blacked out in the city with my friends, spent most of my time recovering in my bed and virtually achieved nothing productive.” So, you simply say, “It was really good, super relaxing, how about yours?”

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This also occurs when my parents question my spending habits on the weekends. “I thought you were trying to be more conservative with your money and spend less?” Casually, I respond with something similar to, “Yeah I am, I picked up a babysitting shift so I haven’t really touched my paycheck yet.” Half truth, half lie, but I have to keep the bullshit coming especially when it comes to money to avoid a row with my parents, and also myself. Sadly, I think I internally lie to myself about my ridiculous spending habits on unnecessary clothes, food & alcohol. But I forgive myself.

We bullshit through everyday interfaces as well; whether you run into someone randomly and say you’re doing good, even though you might be having a shitty day, you justify buying that $20 pair of shoes because you didn’t spend as much as you anticipated over the weekend, or tell your parents you only had 1 – 2 drinks at happy hour after work, we are bullshitters.

Will we ever get to do something with substance, or are we doomed to a life of bullshit?

All Groan Up by Paul Angone

Over the summer, I had read this book I found on my older sister’s bookshelf, in search of some answers. I was in a really big slump; I had just returned from an endless month of binge drinking, an unemployed lifestyle, and living with my friends at the beach. For the first time in a  long time, I didn’t know what was next, since I wouldn’t be returning to school in the fall.

At first, I was in no rush to seek a full-time job. I felt I had earned this time off somehow, but slowly realized that a life of doing nothing can be endless, mundane, and cause a lot of anxiety.

Once I got a new car, I began babysitting again, which made things better, but as summer came to an end, I felt this internal pressure that just kept screaming “What now?”

A question that many of us face, and unfortunately, never have an answer to.

This book entails a time line of a guy who struggled a for a long time with post-grad life. Unfortunate endeavors, dead ends, highs and lows, and small victories. His story and his writing is inspiring and made me feel okay about the current state I was in. He makes his readers know that it’s acceptable not to have a concrete plan or a road map to success, and sympathizes with the struggles faced by recent graduates who live in a world full of unknown. Paul Angone outlines what it’s like to be in the real world with absolutely no answers, through his personal experiences and endeavors, and how he finally got to where he wanted to be through hard work and a lot of trial and errors.

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And he was right, things do work out, even if takes some time to and even if they end up in ways you didn’t expect.

I’m working in an industry I never would have imagined myself in, and maybe I won’t work in this industry forever, but it’s a starting spot and has put me in a really good place personally, financially, and professionally.

Do I know what’s coming next? Probably not, but at least I know I’m stable and excited to continue on this journey.

For anyone who feels the way I felt over the summer and the months following, I highly advise reading this book. At a job you don’t love? Read this book. Contemplating grad school? Read this book. Feeling like the world after colleg is out to personally victimize you? Read this book. Get the point?

In addition to this read being emotionally fundamental, it’s also super funny and witty so super entertaining!

If you do end up reading this book based off my suggestion, I would love to hear feedback! Enjoy!

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Cheers to 23 Years

Exactly 1 year ago today I was in Myrtle Beach, SC blowing up for Spring Break, and it just so happened to be my 22nd birthday. This year, I’m sober and getting ready for bed at 9 p.m. to wake up in the morning and adult. Bittersweet.

The timing of me being offered and accepting my first full-time job was like a birthday gift in itself. Finally stepping into adulthood and trading in my free time for a real paycheck. No more sleeping in on Tuesday mornings, Sunday Fundays, or binge watching in the middle of an afternoon weekday. However, I know that once I get into the groove of my new job and adjust, it’ll be well worth it.

Celebrating my birthday this past weekend was incredible, and I feel so humbled to have the friends that I have. Even though it was a regular night out, I had a great Saturday night in Mannyunk. Aside from having a good night out in lieu of my 23rd birthday, today I’ve thought of so many reasons to cheers to 23 years!

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Like I already said, the full time job was an incredible gift alone and something to feel fortunate about. Although it’s within an industry I’m unfamiliar with, I’m determined to stay optimistic. Every thing from here on out is a stepping stone towards one day landing my dream job, whether it’s through connections, good work ethic, grad school, or just being lucky, it all starts with my first real job.

To my very dearest friends, thank you for always wanting to celebrate and coming out! Over the years, I’ve always had a good celebration, even when I turned 21 and 6 of my closest friends were out of state or out of the country!

To the simple gifts that are the best gifts. The best gifts I’ve ever received were either homemade, thoughtful, or sincere. This year, I got a little of everything. A homemade memoir of our summer in sea isle, touching cards, and a book so perfectly and beautifully picked out for me.

To my family, who always celebrates in the most traditional sense. A homemade dinner at the birthday persons request, followed by homemade cake, that usually has a potluck of arranged candles, usually only amounting to no more than 2 or 3… But it’s always quaint, nice, and humbling.

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Maybe as we get older, birthdays become more simple and less stressful. This birthday was very laid back, but it may have been on of my best yet. I appreciated the day and weekend more because there was no expectation and hype that usually comes with it. I understand that both me and most of my friends are on a budget, so spending like crazy just for one person’s birthday isn’t an option, or a considerate idea. I never want someone to feel obligated to spend money they don’t have just for my birthday.

All of this being said, I think 23 year is going to be the best one yet, full of new experiences, opportunities and open doors, and lot of surprises. Looking forward!

 

5 Times Hollywood Misconstrued Life After College

Before actually being here, I thought this point in my life was to be glamorous- cabbing all over the city to meet up with your friends after work to sip on some cool restaurant’s signature cocktail, sushi dinners, looking like you’re ready for a Saturday night out after sitting in an office for 8 plus hours, and somehow being energized enough to do it all again the next day.

When I pictured life after college, I guess sometimes my vision was a bit exaggerated. I just pictured skyscrapers, attending meetings in different and foreign cities, coffee breaks at hip cafes, and endless after work happy hours. And for some people this life is true, but for me, it is unfortunately not- yet!

But I’ve realized I had this idea in my head because of Hollywood, and how easily they can portray lifestyles to look so attractive, enticing, and easy. But in return, we’re forced to face the harsh reality that these illusions they create are unrealistic. So ponder with me all the different scenarios they’ve created to make us crave this “exciting” thing called adulthood.

  1. Apartments on the Upper East Side – In all the movies and TV shows, there is a precedent that right after graduation, you move out on your own, and never return to your bedroom at mom and dad’s. Again, for some people this is an actual thing, and kudos to you, but for most of us- there is no option but to move home right away. Even if moving out is affordable, the idea of living in the heart of any major city is a bit far fetched. Hollywood creates these sets of spacious, beautifully decorated, remote apartments in locations of prime time real estate for corporate America goers. Basically something out of an IKEA catalog. Fun to dream about? Yes. Realistic? No, not after college while your monthly loan payment is probably almost always higher than your checking account balance.
  2.  Red Carpet Ready After Sitting in an Office Since 8 am– Think about the girls in the movies that meet their friends or boyfriend/ girlfriend after work for dinner and drinks and look like movie stars- no pun intended- yet, they’ve been in the same clothes all day, most likely sitting at a desk the majority of this time, and have been awake for almost 12 hours. Somehow, their make up still looks fresher than ever, curls still perfect, and clothes not wrinkled one bit. Honestly, I wish this was realistic, because at the end of the day, my face is either A) oily, B) covered in mascara, or C) makeup free. And my hair? Most definitely frizzy and in a bun.
  3. The Endless Wardrobe – I haven’t even started my job yet, and I know I’m gonna be an outfit repeater. RIP to college when having Mon, Wed, Friday outfits aside from Tuesday and Thursday outfits was acceptable on campus. Hollywood would never dress a character in the same outfit twice, and as the idea of that would be incredible, I’d rather spend my money on weekend clothes rather than clothes I’m wearing to the office. Also, no one actually looks cute in business attire, don’t let Hollywood fool you. Finding a decent pair of work pants that fit well everywhere is like finding the needle in the haystack.
  4. Looking Like You Survive on Water and Veggies– Obviously in Hollywood, the societal image associated with them is a size 2, which is fine, but the lifestyle the characters indulge in like eating out, getting drinks, etc., don’t match up with their figure, especially since they seem to never work out. If only…
  5. Spending Like You’re Loaded – Finally, the root of all things said above, MONEY. Seriously, after paying loans, bills, insurance, gas, groceries, and basically anything- I’ll be lucky enough to have some money in my checking to go out on the weekends and build a small savings.

Obviously, movies are movies, whatever. They’re there to be appealing and enticing and full of envious lifestyles, but maybe they could be a little more realistic. The lifestyles they set for post grad life seem to be more suited for someone that is 33, rather than 23.

Maybe Hollywood is right, life after college is pretty glamorous in some aspects, but not in the same ways they think. Honestly, I’m perfectly content with my life right now, as long as I’m out of my parents by 25, I’ll be happy!